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'Want to make most of the opportunity after missing Asian Games'

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Bengaluru, July 6 (IANS) Indian hockey team forward Gurjant Singh wants to make the Tokyo Olympic Games opportunity count after missing the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta due to a slump in form and the FIH World Cup due to injury.

The 26-year-old, who is currently preparing for the Olympics at the Sports Authority of India centre in Bengaluru, said that the recent experience of playing against Germany, Great Britain and Argentina will help the team when it competes at the Games.

“I have missed the Asian Games and World Cup due to injuries. I had to sit back and follow the team from home and that was really painful. But I am hopeful I will make this opportunity count in Tokyo, and we are all set for the challenge,” said the Amritsar-born player.

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“Though I was picked for the Asian Champions Trophy in Muscat where I scored four goals, it was not until 2020 that I started proving my mettle in the squad. The goal I scored against the Netherlands in the FIH Hockey Pro League happened to the quickest goal for India and was also voted as the second-best FIH Hockey Pro League goal of 2020 by fans,” said Gurjant, who started his India journey by playing the U-21 six-nation tour in Netherlands in 2015.

Gurjant said one of the key areas he had improved upon during the camp was his defence, as a “good (team) defence begins with the forwards”.

“One of the key areas chief coach Graham Reid expected me to work on was my defence. He insists that good defence begins with the forwards and I really paid a lot of attention to improve my off-ball skills over the past year,” said the forward with 47 international caps.

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Gurjant came into prominence when he scored for India in the semi-final and final of the 2016 FIH Junior World Cup in Lucknow.

“I will never forget December 18, 2016. That is the day we won the Junior World Cup title and so far, it’s been the greatest feat in my career. It was after this great win that people started noticing me,” he added.

–IANS

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