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Friday, February 3, 2023

Hockey World Cup: Akashdeep’s Redemption Dream

FeaturedSports NewsHockey World Cup: Akashdeep's Redemption Dream

Akashdeep Singh’s two strikes – an inside hit and a reverse flick – were instrumental in India’s win over Wales in their final group match on Thursday.

From poacher to striker to attacking midfielder, the 28-year-old has played every role that has been thrown at him over the past decade since his debut in the 2012 Champions Trophy in Melbourne. With gold medals in all the Asian Champions Trophy, Asia Cup and Asian Games, Akashdeep has had a successful career, winning awards ranging from leading goal scorer to player of the series. He was also the highest bidder at the 2015 Hockey India League (HIL) auction, going for $84,000.

The striker, who has been the linchpin of the team for many years, however, missed out on the team’s biggest success in 41 years when he was left out of the squad for the Tokyo Olympics. From the heights of heights, Akashdeep experienced the lowest phase in his career. He was further hurt when India returned home with the bronze. Seeing his friends and teammates wearing Olympic bronze medals gave him equal parts joy and sadness.

“Yes, it was a very difficult period for me. I can’t even describe how painful it was, how much it hurt me. I never thought that I would not be in the team that went to the Olympic Games. was heading towards. When something unexpected happens, it can be very difficult to accept. To say I was sad would be an understatement. It was a huge emotional hit,” said the Arjuna awardee. said

Every athlete waits four years for the chance to represent their nation at the Olympics, but when that dream is shattered, it’s hard to digest. But Akashdeep decided to go ahead. He wasted no time and went back to the drawing board. Away from his team and the national camp, the forward has focused on his return to the Indian team, working hard on his skills at the Punjab Armed Police – where he is employed – training center in Jalandhar.

Akashdeep tailors his training schedule to improve his fitness and gain confidence — multiple sessions on the pitch and half in the gym. His goal-scoring instincts, presence of mind and peripheral vision in the striking circle made him the primary playmaker for every Indian coach. The Punjab player tried to improve his attacking skills before returning to the domestic circuit playing for Punjab Police.

The national selectors couldn’t help but re-select him for the national camp. This time Reid decided to give it a try at the 2021 Asian Champions Trophy in December. The striker reached the occasion by scoring against Bangladesh and Pakistan in the pool stage before scoring the winner against Pakistan in the bronze medal play-off.

He was also selected for the 2021–22 edition of the Pro League, scoring his 200th international against France in February 2022. Strong performances in the Pro League also saw him selected for the Commonwealth Games (CWG) in Birmingham, the 2022-23 Pro League and the bilateral Test series against Australia.

But Akashdeep took nothing for granted and waited for the day when India would announce the squad for the World Cup. On December 23, Akashdeep knew that he would be playing in Odisha in January.

“My only aim was to make a comeback in the Indian team. Every training session became very important for me. I had to improve myself with every session. When you are dropped for such a big tournament, naturally you have confidence. also falls in a big way. My main aim was to get my confidence back, to take advantage of every opportunity I got,” said Akash Deep, who has scored 74 goals in 221 internationals.

After missing out on a medal in Tokyo 17 months ago, Akashdeep is eager to help India win its first World Cup medal here, its third since 1975. “I am trying to play my best hockey. My main goal right now is to do well here. I want to do well from here and see India win a medal in the World Cup in front of our home crowd.

Akashdeep is out to redeem himself.

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