Craig Fulton set sight on gold for India at Paris 2024
With less than a year left for the 2024 Paris Olympics, Fulton has shifted the focus on preparation for the Olympic Games as India eyes the number one rank to strengthen its chance of winning the gold medal in Paris.
Indian men's hockey team's head coach, Craig Fulton, is brimming with confidence after his team's successful campaigns at the Asian Champions Trophy in August and Asian Games in Hangzhou, where the Men in Blue emerged triumphant decisively.
With less than a year left for the 2024 Paris Olympics, Fulton has shifted the focus on preparation for the Olympic Games as his team eyes the number one rank to strengthen its chance of winning the gold medal in Paris.
"First thing was to qualify, so we did that well at the Asian Games. It was a good milestone," he was quoted as saying by Times of India.
But the South African native does not want to live on his team's recent achievements; he is busy setting the training formula for the players.
"Now, it’s just to put a good programme together, so we peak at the right time physically, and everything comes together at the right moment. We’ve quite a few tournaments before the Olympics which can become difficult, but we need a bigger squad, so we have a lot more players to share the load," Fulton observed.
The Indian team ended its 41-year wait for an Olympic medal at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics by winning a bronze medal. But the gold medal continues to elude India. The last time, the Indian men's team won a gold medal was in the 1980 Moscow Olympics.
But, Fulton does not see any pressure as the expectation soared for his team in the face of its magnificent form in Asia.
"There’s no pressure," remarked the coach.
"My expectation for me as a coach in any tournament is to play to win," he added.
As his team, ranked 3rd in the world now, eyes gold in Paris 2024, Fulton says the first task for his boys would be to reach the no. 1 position on the world rankings to stand a realistic chance of winning the gold medal in the French capital.
"You have a realistic objective and an ideal one. The ideal one is to win gold. And the realistic one is that we are ranked third in the world. So, realistically, where should we finish? The objective is to try and get higher up the pecking order to No.2 or 1 in the world in the next six months," he added.
Fulton also underlined the role of mental conditioning coach Paddy Upton in India's pursuit of the yellow metal.
"Playing hockey in India is totally different to playing hockey outside of India. It’s two different worlds. So, there are two different skill-sets that you need to manage it," stated Fulton.
"With Paddy, it just helps some of the players by making them a little bit more mentally aware that they can ask questions. We can set a framework and he gives them mental skills to help deal with certain expectations," the 49-year-old coach added.