I Contemplated Retirement After Failing To Qualify For Paris Olympics: Savita Punia

The Indian women's hockey team's heartbreak of not being able to qualify for the Paris Olympics is now more than two months old. A third-place finish in the qualifiers could have guaranteed them a spot but India lost to Japan, crushing their dreams. Savita Punia, the captain of the Indian team, speaks up about her feelings after the big failure.
Savita Punia

Savita Punia.

Photo : Twitter
The Indian women's hockey team's heartbreak of not being able to qualify for the Paris Olympics is now more than two months old. A third-place finish in the qualifiers could have guaranteed them a spot but India lost to Japan, crushing their dreams. Confident after winning the Asian Champions Trophy last year, the failure to cross the Olympic hurdle came as a huge blow.
The Indian captain, Savita Punia, spoke to Times Now on how much awards inspire her, the disappointment of failing to qualify for Paris and if she has moved on from the hurt. Excerpts:
How much do these recognitions and awards inspire you?
It inspires all of us a lot. Ever since Hockey India introduced these awards, it has been a huge source of motivation for us, especially for the junior players. They have this thing in mind that good performance throughout the year might help them get nominations in the awards next year. You see, more than winning the award, nominations are important.
I believe that if one person in the team is winning an award, it belongs to the team.
You just led Haryana to the title in the Senior National Women's Championships. After not qualifying for Paris, how big a boost was that?
I remember going back home after the Olympic qualifiers and I felt like I didn't want to play any more and I should just quit. It was a very low feeling and it didn't last for a few days, it lasted for weeks. We played the Pro League in February but the feeling was still the same. After I went back home, both my parents and my in-laws, they were very supportive and they assured me that whatever decision I make on my career, they will be beside me.
But I think the passion for the sport overpowered my retirement decision and then I decided to play the national championships. The hurt of not qualifying for Paris even after a fourth-place finish at Tokyo will always stay but the win at the championships has helped me.
All I want to now is enjoy what I am doing and I want to keep improving, and speaking for the team, we will make a stronger comeback.
Do you want to play till 2028 Los Angeles Olympics?
Touchwood, I am still fit both physically and mentally at 33. I don't feel my age at times and it inspires me to keep moving. I believe that if I can do bigger things at this age, I can inspire others as well, even if it is in some other field or sport. There is a common notion that women should give up their careers after marriage, or after a certain age, but I am blessed that my in-laws have been extremely supportive regarding this.
I can't promise that I will play for the next four years but I would like to continue. There is the next leg of Pro League and then the much-awaited Hockey India League. I want to play one big tournament before I retire.
Your last match in the recent leg of the Pro League ended in a shootout. Do you incorporate specific training for such situations?
Yes, that is a training schedule for us during camps, be it penalty corner shootout, attack, defence as well.
What are you aiming at in the upcoming camp?
We will focus on fitness a lot, definitely. The rise of Indian women's hockey in the last three-four years is due to increased fitness. This is a 60-player camp now and it will be shortlisted to 33. A meeting will follow where we will discuss with the coach and trainers the necessary parts.
End of Article
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