The list of Indian players who would be featuring for the nation in the Rio Olympics 2016 would likely be finalised on July 5 by Hockey India (HI). The Indian men's hockey team will be vying for their first gold medal in 36 years this time around.
One of the most successful nations in hockey at the Olympics, India have bagged eight gold medals in the grand sporting event pre- and post-independence. The India senior hockey team last won a gold medal in the Olympics in 1980 and the question on everyone's mind right now is if history would repeat and India would get her ninth gold in hockey.
The positive news is the team, to be led by Sardar Singh, will take part in a lot of competitions ahead of the quadrennial sporting event in Rio de Janeiro this year. The first assignment for the Indian team will be during the FIH Champions Trophy, scheduled to start from June 10 in London. The team will be led by goalkeeper PR Sreejesh and Sardar has been rested ahead of the other key games.
Following the Champions Trophy, Roelant Oltmans' men will be heading to Spain to participate in a Six Nations tournament. "The national selectors are likely to meet on July 5 to pick the final squad for the Olympics," Oltmans has been quoted as saying by IANS.
"We will start the national camp on July 11 which will be a two-week camp after we leave for Madrid, to play two friendly matches with Spain and then head to Rio and have a friendly with Spain and New Zealand," he explained the further plans. "I believe we have entered a very exciting period in the lead up to the Olympics."
Sardar Singh's men have been grouped alongside 2012 London Olympics champions Germany, Netherlands, Ireland, Canada and Argentina. There are a total of two groups and following the group games, the top four teams from every group will progress to the quarterfinals.
The other group consists of Australia, Belgium, hosts Brazil, Great Britain, New Zealand and Spain.