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Minor tweaks in drag flick routine got Indian hockey star Gurjit Kaur going in Tokyo

Sports Lounge Staff




Mumbai: A look at the video recordings of her drag flicks in the matches against Ireland and South Africa in Tokyo and going back to the drawing board with the coaches helped Gurjit Kaur, the lone drag-flicker in the Indian women’s hockey team, to make a stunning comeback and score the all-important goal against Australia in the quarterfinals.

India had bagged 14 penalty corners against Ireland and failed to convert even one and the team’s think-tank raised the issue in the team.

“We discussed the issue in the team meeting. A lot of people don’t understand that Ireland had a very good first rusher and an experienced goalkeeper. Also, there are days when things just don’t work for you. It was such a day for against Ireland as not a single attempted worked,” Gurjit said during a virtual press conference on Saturday.

“I also had a look at the videos of my drag flicks and correcting some mistakes that I was making,” Gurjit added.

The coaching staff also impressed on the drag-flicker that she might be choosing the wrong spot for her drag flick. They also discussed the angles that she can work to avoid the first rusher.

So, Gurjit went into the match against Australia more determined. However, she did not take the first PC India earned and they tried a variation. But just before the second, the coaches sent a message and Gurjit stepped up and slammed home the winner.

Gurjit said she did not change much in her approach but made minor tweaks and once she scored against Australia, she was more confident and continued with the same rhythm.

Sjoerd Marijne, chief coach of the Indian women’s team, said the success of the penalty corner depended a lot on the choices that were made by the players — like what variation to use, who will stop the ball, and where the flicker will place the ball.

“She was not making the right choice in the preliminary round games but in the knockouts, she really did a good job and scored the winner against Australia in the quarterfinal,” Marijne said after the bronze medal match that India lost to Great Britain 4-3 and in which Gurjit scored a brace of goals through well-placed drag flicks.

Gurjit, who picked up drag flicking from Dutch drag-flick coach Toon Siepman in 2017, was philosophical about the match against Ireland.

“Everybody has his or her day — on some days things work just fine some days nothing does. Against Ireland, we got 14 penalty corners and I was trying my flicks but it so happened that nothing worked on that day. I saw the video recording later and realized what was missing in my routine and I improved on that in the knockout stage,” said Gurjit.

Having cemented her place in the team, Gurjit now wants to continue to work hard and do her best in the matches.

“The bronze medal match showed what we are actually capable of. We were down 2-0 and came back strongly and were a goal up too. The team played as a single unit and showed a good fighting spirit. We need to maintain this. it is a big achievement for the team and it will inspire the next generation of women hockey players,” said the 25-year-old from Punjab.

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