Tokyo Olympics has been a game-changer for India. Right after winning bronze on Wednesday in the field of welter weightlifting, the men’s hockey team claimed another Olympic bronze medal. This medal is very precious because it is the first time that India has won something in the Olympics (in the field of men’s hockey) in the last 41 years. It appears that the men’s hockey team was jinxed but now it broke that and won a bronze.
History has been written on the hockey pitch. India has a rich tradition and history of the sport field hockey. If it is calculated, it will be seen that this sport has given India as many as 11 Olympic medals (which included 8 golds between 1928-1980). Everyone was surprised as this love affair with India on the Olympic stage was reignited. The last time, the games were held in Japan in the year 1964 where India won a gold medal. But after that, India won in 1980. Finally, after a long wait of 41 years, India came back to its form and won a bronze.
The match was against Germany. The match itself was very gripping, thrilling and people were literally on the edge of their seats while watching it. The last time India won a medal in the field of hockey in Olympics was back in 1980. This time, India defeated Germany by 5-4 and won a bronze medal. At the Tokyo Olympics in 2020, Manpreet Singh, who was the mid-fielder and the first Indian hockey player being named the FIH men’s hockey player of the year in 2019 led the 16-member Indian team. Manpreet’s captaincy has been great over the past four years. During this period, the Indian team won the Asia cup in 2017, the Asian Champions trophy in 2018, the FIH Series Final in 2019 and in fact, also reached the quarterfinals in the 2018 World cup in Bhubaneshwar.
The Tokyo Olympics was Manpreet’s third Olympic games. He had two defenders in his team, namely, Birendra Lakra and Harmanpreet Singh. Harmarpreet has a great record in leading the Indian team. He made his senior India debut in 2015. Even in 2019, when the seeker Manpreet was absent, he led the team to win the FIH Olympic Test in Tokyo. However, Birendra Lakra had a knee surgery in 2016 and missed the Rio Olympics.
The Indian team is very interesting. Out of 16 players, as many as the 10 of them has featured in their maiden Olympics. These 10 players are- Birendra Lakra, Lalit Kumar Upadhyay, Dilpreet Singh, Amit Rohidas, Vivek Sagar Prasad, Hardik Singh, Nilakanta Sharma, Sumit, Samsher Singh and Gurjant Singh.
India won all the matches which led them to the quarter-finals except the match against the Aussies where it lost by 1-7. In the quarter-finals, India beat Great Britain by 3-1 and quite frankly, stormed into the semis. However, they lost to the number 1 team in the world, Belgium by 2-5 as a result of which they entered the bronze medal category and played Germany. The long wait of 41 years was finally over.