Thimmaiah’s inch-perfect progress
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Although bought less than a month back, Nithin Thimmaiah's hockey stick looks far older. Taped all around the handle, it looks that it took a lot of beating during the Champions Trophy tournament.
But there is no actual damage, it's just that Thimmaiah is extra protective of equipment. There is a reason. With few hockey players his size in India — Thimmaiah is 6'3" — sticks that are available locally are a size too small.
"It is next to impossible to find a hockey stick here. The longest stick is usually the 37.5 (inch) one. In order to get a good grip on the stick, I used to nail a small length of wood to the handle and then cover the length with tape. It works but the feel isn't the same as with a factory made piece," he says.
So when Thimmaiah saw a 38.5 inch on sale during the Lanco Super 8's, just ahead of the Champions Trophy in Australia, he bought it immediately. "It was expensive at 12000 rupees but it was worth it. I struck my first international goal with this in the Germany game, so in a way it will always be my lucky stick," he says.
While the 24-year-old had played a couple of games earlier this year, the Champions Trophy, in which he scored two goals, was his first major international tournament. "I was part of the pre Olympic team and I played a couple of games in the Europe Tour, mostly as a substitute. But at the same it allowed me to get a measure of the pace of the game," he says. Despite that bit of preparation, Thimmaiah admits he was nervous ahead of the competition. "Coach (Nobbs) told me to go and play as if I was the best player in the world. I don't know if he knew how I was feeling, but it certainly helped," he says.
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