English News

  • youtube
  • facebook
  • twitter

Tokyo Olympics bronze – the moment Indian hockey had been waiting for decades has arrived

Historic, a day that will be etched in the memory of every Indian, tweeted Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi after Indian men's hockey team beat Germany for a bronze medal at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games on Thursday (Images courtesy: Twitter/@TheHockeyIndia)

"People loved hockey but they stopped expecting medals from us. It will change now, things will change now," an emotional Rupinder Pal Singh said after India beat Germany 5-4 to claim Olympic bronze in the men's hockey tournament on Thursday morning, their first medal at the Games for 41 years. Germany, aiming to match the third place finish they achieved at Rio 2016, were up against an incredible Indian team which went all out to win its first Olympic medal since Moscow 1980.

As the Indian players, many of them in tears, celebrated the historic moment at the Oi Hockey Stadium in Tokyo, heartbroken Germans – who will return home empty handed from an Olympics for the first time in 21 years – lay down on the pitch in disbelief.  

"This is something which I never felt in my life until today. That's a great feeling. I think I need to go back to my home to realise what it is actually. Just waiting for that. I just called my dad because he was the reason behind me being here and I just wanted to tell him that I achieved it," said Indian goalkeeper P R Sreejesh, after the match.

Playing his third Olympics, the 35-year-old has now earned the tag of 'Great Wall of India' for making innumerable saves during the competition.

Tokyo Olympic Games

Also playing in his third Olympics was Indian captain Manpreet Singh, who carried not just India's flag at the Tokyo Olympics opening ceremony along with boxer M C Mary Kom but also a billion hopes.  

"I don't know what to say right now. It was fantastic, the way we played today. I think we deserved this medal as we have worked so hard, and the last 15 months has been so difficult for us, being in Bangalore away from our families. From the whole team and the coaches we would like to dedicate this medal to our doctors and frontline warriors who have been checking us and saved so many people's lives in India," said Manpreet.

As India battled a massive Covid-19 wave recently, both men's and women's hockey teams had, before departing for Tokyo Olympic Games, vowed to dedicate their performances to the countless frontline workers.

"We promise to fight all odds to win a medal for India. And if we do get a medal, we would like to dedicate it to the true heroes of our country – the doctors and frontline workers who have worked tirelessly to heal our country through these tough times and saved millions of lives. Thank you, Jai Hind," Manpreet had told Hockey India during the training camp at SAI Centre, Bengaluru.

The captain and his men kept the promise of winning the medal on Thursday and dedicated it to the Covid warriors back home.

Nothing at Olympics, the biggest sporting extravaganza in the world, comes easy and the men in blue had to put up their best show ever to win one of the most dramatic bronze medal matches in Olympic history.

Indian Hockey Team

India fought back from 1-3 down to claim a sensational 5-4 victory over Die Honamas and seal their place on the podium this evening. Goals from Simranjeet Singh (2), Harmanpreet Singh, Rupinder Pal Singh and Hardik Singh denied Germany a medal at a fourth successive Olympic Games (Gold: Beijing 2008, London 2012, Bronze: Rio 2016).

Timur Oruz put Germany into the lead just two minutes into the contest after India failed to clear their defensive lines before Simranjeet Singh levelled the scores early in the second quarter with a fierce backhand strike.

Simranjeet’s effort was the first of five goals in the second quarter, with Germany dominating to open up a fully deserved 3-1 lead thanks to goals from Niklas Wellen and Benedikt Furk before India hit a quick-fire double through Hardik Singh and the exceptional Harmanpreet Singh to take the score to 3-3 at half time.

India’s momentum was not interrupted by the half time break, with Rupinder Pal Singh scoring a penalty stroke before Simranjeet Singh chipped home a fifth to put the eight-times Olympic gold medallists into a commanding 5-3 lead going into the final quarter.

Germany have proven time and time again that they never know when they are beaten, and set about the task of attempting a comeback with typical determination. They reduced the deficit 12 minutes from time when Lukas Windfeder slammed home a low penalty corner, setting up a dramatic climax to the contest.

Die Honamas threw everything they had at their opponents, and were given one final chance to salvage the contest when they were awarded a penalty corner with just six seconds remaining. However, the drag-flick from the top of the circle was brilliantly saved by India goalkeeper PR Sreejesh, becoming the hero that sealed India’s bronze medal at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.

The win triggered massive celebrations back home with Prime Minister Narendra Modi saying that the day will be etched in the memory of every Indian.

"Historic! A day that will be etched in the memory of every Indian. Congratulations to our men’s hockey team for bringing home the bronze. With this feat, they have captured the imagination of the entire nation, especially our youth. India is proud of our hockey team," tweeted PM Modi.

To many, the stupendous show by the Indian hockey teams – Rani Rampal-led women's team plays its bronze medal on Friday – at the Tokyo Olympic Games has now truly set in motion the process of revival for Indian hockey.

"This is just the appetizer, the main course will be served in the next few years. Indian hockey is back on track, there is so much more to come," said a teary-eyed former Indian coach Harendra Singh, who is now coach of the USA men's field hockey team.

Also Read: Olympic dream not over yet, says Indian hockey captain after the semifinal loss in Tokyo