Indian hockey team prepares for ticket to Beijing Olympics

9 years ago | 27-02-2008 | SAMPURN

NEW DELHI, February 27: Not withstanding the success of ShahRukh Khan's 'Chak De India...', past hockey world champion, India will now have to slog to obtain a place in the next Olympic Games.

Despite having won eight Olympic gold medals for hockey, India will travel to Chile this week to contest for a place in the Olympic Games.

It is an irony that India, who have never missed the Olympics since field hockey was introduced as a medal sport in 1928, face a do-or-die torment in Santiago from March 1-9 to be able to make the trip to Beijing in August. Only one team will go through from the six-nation qualifying tournament in Santiago and the team will be chosen among India, Britain, Russia, Mexico, Austria and the hosts Chile.

Although the Indian coach Joaquim Carvalho appears to be confident that his team will meet the criteria, it must be borne in mind that at the 2006 World Cup in Germany, Britain secured the fifth place much ahead of India who finished 11th.

Australian hockey master Ric Charlesworth, who was hired by India in 2007 as a consultant to refresh the team's kismet, appeared a little skeptical about Indias prospects in Chile. According to Charlesworth, the competition in Chile would be tougher than expected as one not only has to beat Britain there, but also overcome other challenges.