The Indian men's hockey team under Harmanpreet Singh was seen as a frontrunner to win the FIH Hockey World Cup earlier in the year with the showpiece tournament staged at home in Bhubaneshwar.
Things, however, took a turn for the worse when the home team lost to New Zealand in a penalty shootout and crashed out without even making it to the knockout stages. Graham Reid, the-then coach of the men's team, resigned a few days later.
Post India's loss, Hockey India President Dilip Tirkey expressed his disappointment with the result. Nevertheless, he thwarted away every question asked to him about replacing Harmanpreet as India's captain. Instead, there were talks about bringing in a mental conditioning coach to revive the team and bring it back to its fullest potential.
Hockey India released a statement on Thursday, announcing the signing of Paddy Upton, India men's cricket team's former mental conditioning coach, had been roped in to work with the hockey team. Upton expressed his happiness at being invited to work with the Indian men's hockey team and said in a release, "I have witnessed the tremendous growth of Indian hockey in recent years, and I am excited to contribute to the team's success by enhancing their mental resilience and psychological skill set. Together, we will work towards achieving the highest level of performance and excellence."
UPTON'S FRUITFUL STINT WITH INDIAN CRICKET TEAM
With the 2011 Cricket World Cup a couple of years away, Team India's then coach Gary Kirsten recommended bringing in Upton as a part of the support staff.
The South African duo worked closely with the players for the next three years during which India became the No. 1 Test team in 2009 for the first time ever. The team even went on to win the 2011 World Cup, its first showpiece trophy in 28 years, after Kapil Dev's India won it in 1983.
Upton has also worked as the head coach of Indian Premier League team Pune Warriors in 2012, and went on to work with Rajasthan Royals from 2013-15 and later, with the Delhi Daredevils (2016-17).
WHAT DOES UPTON BRING TO THE TABLE FOR THE INDIAN HOCKEY TEAM?
Upton's impressive resume has had to be one of the reasons for Hockey India to hire him as part of the hockey team's support staff.
With not much time left for the Asian Games, the Indian men's hockey team is keen to put behind the World Cup disappointment and add a fourth gold medal to the list of Asian Games glory.
Upton understands the weight of the pressure that the players go through and need the right support system to lift them in tougher times.
After naming the new appointment, Tirkey said, "Hockey India wanted to ensure there is absolutely nothing lacking in the team's preparations for major tournaments this year, particularly the Asian Games in China where the Olympic qualification will be at stake."
Upton brings with him a breath of fresh air with great accomplishments to back his qualifications. As India look to add gold to their tally at the Asian Games 'up' is the only way they can hope to go.