New Delhi: India's gold medal in the just-concluded Asian Games after a 16-year hiatus has proved that hockey is "still alive and kicking" in the country which has a rich history in the sport, feels High Performance Director Roelant Oltmans.
A spirited India outclassed arch-rivals Pakistan 4-2 in a nerve-wrecking shoot-out to regain the Asian Games men's hockey gold medal after a gap of 16 years and also sealed a direct entry into the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.
Before embarking for the Asian Games, there was immense pressure on highly-paid Oltmans and chief coach Terry Walsh to deliver results, but the legendary Dutchman said the performance in Incheon will definitely silence the critics of hockey.
"I never feel pressure. The word pressure in not in my dictionary. I know my job. I know what I am doing and the same way Terry knows what he is doing. It is important that people have faith in us and let us do our work," Oltmans told PTI in an interview.
"I hope the gold will silence the critics for quite some time now. This gold proves that hockey is still alive and kicking in this country," he said.
Oltmans, who is in charge of the overall development of Indian hockey, is satisfied with the performance of both the men's and women's team, which clinched a bronze in the Asian Games but said there is still lots to improve upon.
"Of course I'm satisfied with the performances. It is close to maximum. We had a chance to win silver in the women's competition. Both the women's and men's teams created a lot of goal scoring chances which tells that we are going in the right direction. But there are plenty of areas to improve," he said.
The Dutchman, however, warned Indian hockey fans not to get carried away with the gold in the Asian Games as he feels the eight-time Olympic champions have a long way to go to match the likes to Australia, Netherlands and Germany.
"We all have to realise that this was a championship in Asia. In the World Cup we saw how the Asian teams fared. We need to understand that Holland, Germany and Australia are the top three teams in the world and just below them are teams like Argentina, New Zealand, England and we are now a part of the second group.