Tsawwassen's Mark Pearson has got one thing on his mind this weekend in New Delhi, India.
The standout young forward on Canada's men's field hockey team wants to help book a place for his side at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, England.
But to do that the team, which also includes fellow Tsawwassenite and Canadian veteran Rob Short, has to overcome not only some powerful teams on the pitch, but the conditions.
To hep with that, Pearson, 24, and the rest of the team arrived in New Delhi last weekend and since then the players have spent their time doing a little sight-seeing and tuning up with practice matches against some of the teams they will face in the six-team tournament which will send just the overall winner to the Summer Olympics.
"The first day here we took the famous tuk-tuk taxi's over to the India Gate for a jog and stretch to get the body moving after the flight which was a cool experience," Pearson said via email. "Since then, days have been spent alternating between either training sessions or exhibition matches against Italy and Poland. Post practice we head straight to the hotel pool for a regeneration jog in and then stretch beside the pool to keep the body in top shape."
Pearson added the weather has not been too warm.
"Sunny and low to mid 20's. Not too hot for us coming out of the Canadian winter."
He added the team's mood has also been quite temperate, but with an underlying sense of confidence.
"I think that being here a week early puts us in a comfortable position as guys are fully acclimitized to the massive time change and weather," Pearson said. "Guys realize it will be a tough challenge to win this tournament competing against five capable sides all with the same goal of Olympic qualification, but we come with an experienced, fit and talented team, so (we) have to be confident going in.
"Anything less than Olympic qualification will be a disappointment."
Canada missed out on gaining an automatic berth in London by finishing second to arch rivals Argentina last fall at the Pan American Games in Mexico.
Canada will be facing Italy in the tournament opener on Saturday (Feb. 18). Following that is Poland on Feb. 19, Singapore on Feb. 21, hosts India on Feb. 22 and France on Feb. 24.
The final is set for Feb. 26.
"Our toughest tests will come from India, France and Poland—especially India who will likely have a large passionate crowd in the 16,000 seat stadium firmly behind them," Pearson said. "Other than that, I don't think there is much else to say, our first match is on Saturday against Italy and I can't wait to get started."
All of the games are scheduled to be streamed on the International Hockey Federation website (http://www.fih.ch/en/home).