India men's hockey team midfielder Hardik Singh has said the focus ahead of the 2023 World Cup in Bhubaneswar and Rourkela is on perfecting penalty-corner conversion, adding that even after the practice sessions are over, the drills continue till the goals have been met.
The men's squad has been busy preparing for major events such as the Pro League 2022/23 and the 2023 World Cup in January. With one eye on the marquee tournament, Hardik said on Friday the team is syncing well behind the scenes during an intense training camp.
"We do extra sessions to perfect the penalty corner routines and even if you have a full training session, it is essential to go through these extra minutes," he said.Hardik, who looks set to play his second senior World Cup, believes there is no substitute for hard work.
"Everyone is very excited about the World Cup. We didn't do well last time, but now after the 2020 Tokyo Olympics things have changed overall for Indian hockey. There are expectations from our team. And we are capable of making the final and winning it.
The whole team is hungry to get success this year and we want to finish on the podium," said Hardik.The midfielder also noted that there are no free lunches at the highest level, and it's all about who turns up on the big day.
"In the World Cup, all the teams will be difficult to play against. It doesn't matter who the team on the other side is. You can't say what will happen, and we are going to treat each match like we are playing in a final."
Part of a family of hockey players, including Gurmail Singh, who was a member of the team that won gold in the 1980 Moscow Olympics, the 24-year-old said, "Our camp is going on well and we have been working a lot on our fitness.
Every day is a hard session and even if we are having a tough day we still have to go through that session. This camp has been like that but we have to do our work and it was still quite a fun camp for us."
Looking back at his journey so far, Hardik is grateful to have shared the dressing room with the likes of Sardar Singh, and added that it was always going to be hockey for him."For me hockey was always the first choice.
When I was six, my father introduced me to hockey and my grandfather was a hockey player as well and he was a coach in the Navy team. That's where I developed interest, and there were others in my family who played as well, and we would go to watch them play. That's how I developed a love for the game," he added.