Hockey World Cup: Was India’s decision to release Robin Arkell a mistake? | Hockey News


BHUBANESWAR: Strength & conditioning specialist Robin Arkell was with the Indian men’s hockey team when it won the Olympic bronze in Tokyo in 2021. Hockey India didn’t retain him after that. Three months ago, he joined the German national team who are now in the World Cup final.
The context of the above shouldn’t be misunderstood. The Indian team’s fitness hasn’t nose-dived since Arkell left. But he is one notable absentee from the Indian bunch that travelled to Tokyo and finished on the Olympic podium.
After India’s insipid show in the ongoing hockey World Cup, the postmortem process is on to list the reasons behind the team’s failure to reach even the quarterfinals.

The jury is out on whether not retaining the South African Arkell was one of the many reasons behind India not being able to build on the momentum of the Olympic bronze. A former India player and coach told, “It actually is.”
In 2017, Arkell was appointed as India’s scientific advisor — a role that included, but was not limited to, the profile of strength and conditioning. Mapping training sessions with the Global Positioning System transformed the way India trained based on speed, direction and endurance.


Robin Arkell (Image credit: Hockey India)
It clearly benefited the supremely fit Indian players in hot conditions during the Summer Games in Tokyo, but Arkell wasn’t retained after 2021.
Three months before this World Cup, the Germans hired Arkell’s services and seemed to be reaping the benefits. Their wins in the quarterfinal against England and in the semifinals against Australia came on the back of two goals in the last two minutes in both the matches when they were trailing.

The Gambusch brothers, Mats and Tom, brought the Germans back from the dead to tie the last-eight match against England at 2-2 before winning it in the shootout. Against Australia in the semis, they were down 2-3 in the 59th minute, when Gonzalo Peillat completed his hat-trick to level it and Niklas Wellen scored the winner in the 60th minute to oust the world No. 1 Aussies.
To keep the intensity at the same level from the first to the last minute also speaks volumes about the fitness of the German players.
“What he does is great, especially in recovery,” said Wellen when asked about Arkell’s contribution.

It will be interesting to find out from the Indian players how their recovery process has changed since Arkell left.
When probed a little further, Wellen chose to not reveal all the cards about Arkel’s contribution, with a World Cup final coming up.
“I can’t tell everything we are doing with him,” said Wellen.

Germany will face defending champions Belgium for the title on Sunday. The Red Lions beat the Netherlands in a shootout (3-2) in the second semifinal that ended in a 2-2 tie after the regulation period of 60 minutes.
India, meanwhile, will play their last game of the World Cup for the 9th-12th place against South Africa on Saturday.

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