Kannan Bose savours the moment. The fragrance of a hard-earned success swept through the air. The Indian hockey team was awash in a feeling of euphoria. This is why we play sports.
A sense of being a part of history was unmistakable. After the Indian team was presented with the bronze medal at the Tokyo Games, the support staff, including physio Kannan Bose, got onto the podium with the team for a photo session.
“The world looked different from there. Success never tasted sweeter, and it had to be earned every inch of the way,” said Bose in an exclusive conversation with The Hindu on Thursday.
The 40-year-old Bose began his career in cricket — he worked in teams owned by Kalpathi Group and India Cements, continually served at the NCA and was the physio of the Tamil Nadu Ranji team in 2018.
He joined the Indian hockey team as its chief physio in Sept. 2020. It proved a pivotal moment in his career.
Travelling right into the heart of the Olympics, Bose said, “It was hot and humid in Tokyo. Considering the weather, the effort and the level of alertness shown by Sreejesh, who was wearing the goal-keeper’s heavy attire, was phenomenal.”
The Indian physio revealed, “We had devised a strategy, based on the oppressive weather, to have a substitution every two minutes. And before every quarter we would have a chart ready. It was so organised.”
He called Mandeep Singh, Sumit Valmiki, Harmanpreet and Sreejesh super fit and added getting Birender Lakra, nursing a calf injury, ready for the Games was his most challenging task.
Bose said, “Hockey is an explosive short-duration game played over four sessions. There is so much running up and down, particularly by the forwards and the midfielders, that it can make extreme demands on the body.”
Bose said, “Every member of the Indian hockey team had a YoYo score of 22, way ahead of cricket, and as many as 10 players had reached 23.8 which is the maximum that can be scored in YoYo.”
Talking about the Olympic campaign, Bose said, “Even when we lost to Australia, we were not overly disappointed because we knew it was a day when everything went right for Australia.”
He elaborated, “This team is mentally very tough which adds to its physical strength. It can come back from adversity.” Bose noted, “England is a team that plays very fast and comes extremely hard at you in the last session. We weathered the storm in the quarterfinals. And we showed belief against Germany in the bronze medal play-off.”
Now Bose is part of a glittering page in Indian hockey. No wonder he is smiling.