regular-article-logo Thursday, 30 November 2023

Sreejesh eyes direct berth to Olympics through Asiad, wants to change colour of medal in Paris

I am right now taking one game, one tournament at a time, says Sreejesh

PTI New Delhi Published 21.09.23, 10:38 AM
PR Sreejesh.

PR Sreejesh. PTI Photo

At 35, PR Sreejesh is in the twilight of his career and the Hangzhou Asian Games is most likely to be his last appearance at the continental showpiece.

But the India hockey goalkeeper is determined to win the gold at Hangzhou to give himself a chance to earn a direct entry to the Paris Olympics next year, and win the top prize there.


Eight-time champions India had won a bronze at the Tokyo Olympics after 41 years, beating Germany 5-4 in the play-off match.

“Obviously, next year’s Olympics is my main target and I want to change the colour of my medal there.

But having said that, we need to qualify through the Asian Games (for the Olympics) so that we get ample time to prepare ourselves,” Sreejesh said.

Sreejesh iterated that age is just a number for a sportsperson and gave the example of tennis great Novak Djokovic in this regard. “I am right now taking one game, one tournament at a time. As (Novak) Djokovic said, 35 is the new 25. So, I’m definitely there,” he said.

Having handled the duties under the goalpost of the India hockey team for more than 17 years, Sreejesh wants to groom the next generation of goalkeepers in India.

“Krishan (Bahadur Pathak) and me have been takign up the goalkeeping responsibilities for a long time. We share a good rapport. There are upcoming goalkeepers like Suraj Karkera and Pawan Malik who are good and will only get better with time.

“I just want to ensure that there is enough backup,” he said.

The goalkeepers, including Sreejesh, underwent some sessions under Dutchman Dennis van de Pol in the lead-up to the Asian Games, which has been very helpful according to the veteran custodian.

“Dennis van de Pol is a good coach. It has really been beneficial to work with him. His experience and vast knowledge of goalkeeping have been very useful for us.

“He has deep knowledge and his skills and expertise have definitely helped us in all aspects of goalkeeping,” he signed off.

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