Jaipur, June 3
Seasoned striker Yuvraj Walmiki has a “gut feeling” that the Indian men’s hockey team will win a medal if the Tokyo Olympics goes ahead as per schedule.
Among other things, the 31-year-old Walmiki, spoke about the national team’s prospects in Tokyo, his life’s struggles and how they helped him become a better human being on the latest episode of ‘SportTiger Talks’.
“One thing I will definitely say is that Indian hockey right now is doing wonderfully well under (leadership of) (PR) Sreejesh and Manpreet (Singh),” Walmiki said.
“I still have this gut feeling… In case, Tokyo Olympics takes place, the Indian hockey team will bag a medal this time. I have this strong belief in my heart.”
The Indian hockey team boasts eight gold medals at the Olympics—the most by any team in the history of the Games. But last podium finish was gold medal at the Moscow Olympics, back in 1980.
However, as far as the Tokyo Olympics is concerned, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) is facing pressure, especially from the general Japanese public to call off the Games due to a surge in Covid-19 cases in the country.
Walmiki, who started playing hockey just to see his picture in the newspapers, spoke about his early days of struggle. He talked about how he grew up in a 10×10 room in Mumbai with no electricity and water and the passion that kept him going.
“I don’t have any competitors, I keep competing with myself to become a better human and work hard every day. In the end, it worked out well for me and to wear the tricolour badge on our chest is probably the biggest motivation for every sportsman.”
The year 2011 was a breakthrough year for him as he represented India at the Asian Champions Trophy where he was the star in the final against Pakistan.
India had won the tournament after defeating Pakistan in a penalty shootout.
“When the Indian flag was being raised, at that moment, I felt that I have done something for the country as the national flag was being raised because of me.
“India versus Pakistan is always a special match. During that time, no strategies work because emotions themselves play such a huge role. We’ve always been tough on them.”
Walmiki has been good in hockey but he has also had a stint in the entertainment industry. He has acted in a web series and was also a part of the reality show ‘Khatron Ke Khiladi’.
Sharing his experience from the entertainment industry, he said, “It’s wonderful and you know what happens is that when you are being named as the first one to do it, it’s always special.
“I have been, in most cases, the first hockey player to do so. I got to see the Bollywood side as well and since the time I did ‘Khatron Ke Khiladi’, I have lots of friends from the TV industry who have now turned into family—like Jai Bhanushali, Raghav and all.”
Walmiki, who is a big fan of former India captain Dhanraj Pillay, has also played in the German Hockey League for eight years.
He has played 52 matches and scored 14 goals for India. He was a key member of the 2014 World Cup team in the Netherlands. PTI