Posted on Leave a comment

COVID-19 Pandemic: Indian hockey teams determined to move forward

first_imgBengaluru: A day after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced the postponement of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games due to the growing concerns around the COVID-19 pandemic, the Indian men’s and women’s hockey team captains expressed their disappointment but vowed to continue to stay committed to their goals.“We had just finished the day’s evening session when chief coach Graham Reid informed us about the postponement of the Olympic Games. Though, somewhere at the back of our minds we anticipated this could happen considering the impact COVID-19 has made across the globe, we had never let it affect our training or the intensity needed in every session,” said men’s team skipper Manpreet Singh. The Indian men’s and women’s hockey teams have shaped up well over the course of the last year, winning big competitions such as the FIH Series Finals and the FIH Hockey Olympic Qualifiers in front of the home crowd in November last year. The men’s team made a fine start to the season this year with fantastic outing in the FIH Hockey Pro League while the women’s team was stoked after their tour to New Zealand earlier this year.There is a sense of disappointment in the Indian camp due to the postponement of the Olympic Games, but they are motivated to continue to put in the hard yards for the quadrennial event next year.“I think the news is yet to sink in for us. We were mentally gearing up for our first match on 25th July 2020, so the disappointment is surely there but it is important for us to now look at the positives. Over the past ten months, we have grown as a team under Chief Coach Graham Reid and I believe we will only continue to build on our form under him in the next one year. Our motivation has not been affected by this announcement.“As a team, we will continue to remain committed to our goal of becoming a better side and bring back the glory days for hockey in India,” added the midfielder further appealing to all Indian hockey fans to stay safe.“On behalf of the entire team, I would urge all hockey fans to please follow the lockdown and stay safe. While you are indoor, try and do basic workouts to keep yourself fit. It’s important to stay healthy both mentally and physically,” Manpreet said.Expressing her team’s disappointment over the announcement, women’s skipper Rani emphasised that her side will utilise the next one year to hone their skills further ahead of the Olympic Games in 2021.“We were already in a meeting when chief coach Sjoerd Marijne received the news and broke it to us on Tuesday evening. Personally, I was very disappointed because the team was in good rhythm to do well at the Tokyo Olympics. But if you see our team’s performance in the past two years in specific, we have grown from strength to strength, challenging every top team in the world. We are looking at this postponement as a positive to continue to work hard and take our game to the next level” Rani said. (IANS)Also Read: Indian Hockey Teams Set for Test Event ChallengeAlso Watch: Coronavirus update: Buddhist Monastery in Naharkatika take extra prevention measureslast_img read more

Posted on Leave a comment

The real OG: How music and family made Olaijah Griffin the person and player he is

first_img“He’s a dude that can dance a lot, that’s for sure,” sophomore safety Talanoa Hufanga said. “He just brings a great attitude of energy — a sense of charisma. Everybody wants to be around him all the time.” Football and music have been two of Griffin’s greatest loves in his life. To this day, he enjoys getting in the recording studio at his family’s house, playing around with his dad’s equipment and having fun on the drum machine. “You’ve got to have a good rhythm to have good technique as well,” Griffin told the Daily Trojan.  “And so once those two kick in, it’s just like a beat just going in my head that just matches with my feet. And that’s why I think I have great feet. And my rhythm is just on point.” Griffin’s expressive nature has endeared him to his Trojan teammates, who know him as “OG.” He recalls watching former Browns running back Jim Brown on TV and mimicking his plays on the field. He was just 4 years old. It’s hard not to think of music when watching Olaijah Griffin play football.  “Music to me is just something that’s always in my head,” Griffin said. “That’s why people see me dancing on the sideline, because just being around music, just getting the rhythm, hearing beats, it’s just something that makes me move, and that’s something I love as well. The world wouldn’t even be the same without music.” Griffin speaks about all of his teammates, especially the defensive backs, as though they are family. But there was a time that he seemed unlikely to become as ingrained in the USC culture as he is now. After initially committing to UCLA, the five-star recruit didn’t choose the Trojans until National Signing Day. There’s a rhythmic energy to the sophomore cornerback’s footwork and his ability to react to the receiver he’s covering, similar to the improvisational ability of some of the greatest jazz musicians. There are the leaping deflections he makes to keep receivers from getting their hands on the ball. There’s a grace with which he covers ground and jumps high in the air, arms outstretched. On the field, he’s the skilled ballroom dancer on a dance floor.  In OG’s case, however, the son of the star has already made a name for himself. “He’s [got] attention to detail,” Pendergast said. “He wants to be the best that he can be at his position. And, you know, he’s a guy that loves challenges, and that’s one of the things I liked about him as a player.” Defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast said Griffin has learned to channel his energy in a way that helps the team. Fans may have noticed Griffin frequently dances during games, whether it be on the sideline, during timeouts or waiting for kickoffs. That’s just part of who he is; he has a deep appreciation for how music and rhythm affect life — and it’s hard for him to contain. But his family, including his father, also helped Griffin discover his true passion on the gridiron. That desire traces back to early childhood, when he first fell in love with football. From a young age, Griffin always knew he wanted to go to the NFL. Griffin’s moves are a hot topic of discussion among his teammates. Redshirt sophomore safety Isaiah Pola-Mao joked that he thinks Griffin sits in his room for hours on end dancing in the mirror to see what he thinks looks cool. He’s certainly progressing along that path. Despite being a sophomore, Griffin has established himself as the team’s top cornerback. Granted, just about every corner on the team’s roster is a sophomore or younger, but Griffin has set himself apart with his growth from his freshman season. Pendergast noted Griffin’s jump in performance and chalked it up to improved focus. Sophomore cornerback Olaijah Griffin fought through injuries to both shoulders to become one of USC’s best defensive players this year. (Photo: Sarah Ko, Design: Kitty Huang / Daily Trojan) Griffin’s passion doesn’t always manifest itself in productive or entertaining ways, though. Too many times this season he has let his competitiveness get the best of him, picking up bad unsportsmanlike conduct penalties for late and unnecessary hits. That’s something he needs to iron out, but it’s also part of the OG experience — for now. He wouldn’t be the same player if he wasn’t ruled by his need to succeed. Griffin is proud of his family name and his role in representing it. He said his 4-year-old brother Royal loves watching him play and that he wants to be a role model for him. Griffin could hardly contain his smile when he said he hopes Royal turns out like him. “Just seeing him playing and getting the chance to see him play in front of my eyes, it was just a great experience,” Griffin said. “But now I know it’s my time to finally take over his place.” However, it hasn’t always been easy for Griffin. After undergoing surgery on both of his shoulders over the offseason, Griffin struggled with back spasms that kept him out of the Washington and Arizona games. At times, he said, the recovery process was disheartening. “That’s a dream that I’m trying to fulfill, and I’m getting closer to that accomplishment, and that’s something I’m proud of as of right now,” he said. “But I just need to keep going.” “He’s jokes. Funniest guy ever,” Jackson said. “He’s just full of energy, always dancing, always hyping other people up. Being around OG — he makes sure you’re naturally happy.” It was Griffin’s given family that ultimately played the biggest role in determining his chosen family. When he switched schools, he picked USC so that his family could still come see him play every game, and he doesn’t take their support for granted. Freshman defensive lineman Drake Jackson, in particular, connected with Griffin upon arriving at USC. Jackson said he was drawn to both Griffin’s musicality and his comedic nature. “At first, I didn’t think I was going to be the same because I was out for so long,” Griffin said. “I never had football not [be] in my life for that long, and just to be back and doing more than what I was doing before, it’s just a great feeling.”  The connections are no accident, Griffin admits. As the son of rapper, songwriter and producer Warren G, music has undoubtedly influenced and, in his opinion, assisted his game.  “One day, my [older] brother went to practice, and I was too young to play, but I was practicing with him,” he said. “And once it was my time, I put on the cleats and I shocked everybody on the field.” Griffin said a big reason for his development was his relationship with former USC cornerback Iman Marshall, who was drafted by the Baltimore Ravens in the fourth round of this year’s NFL Draft. The two Long Beach products had known each other for years before Griffin arrived on campus, and their relationship only grew when they became teammates. “It means everything to me, because even while I’m playing, I could hear my family’s voice cheering me on or telling me something that I need to know,” he said. “Music to me is just something that’s always in my head. That’s why people see me dancing on the sideline, because just being around music, just getting the rhythm, hearing beats, it’s just something that makes me move, and that’s something I love as well. The world wouldn’t even be the same without music.”Olaijah Griffin Increased attention comes with the territory of having a famous father, but it’s not too often that celebrities’ family members make waves in their own right.  Griffin’s background has played a prominent role in his sports career. He has a self-assured nature that comes naturally from seeing high-profile celebrities visit his home from an early age. The lights of the Coliseum don’t seem too bright in contrast. Take a look at the rest of our collaboration with The Daily Bruin:last_img read more