The Indian men’s hockey team overcame a 1-3 deficit to beat Germany 5-4 in the bronze medal match at the Tokyo Olympics on Thursday, winning its first hockey medal at the Games since 1980. This is India’s fifth medal at the Tokyo Olympics, after the medals of Mirabai Chanu, P.V. Sindhu, Lovlina Borgohain and an assured medal for wrestler Ravi Kumar Dahiya.
Olympic bronze start of a new era in Indian hockey, says Asian Games gold medallist Mukesh Kumar
India ends 41 year wait to win Olympic hockey medal, beats Germany to win bronze
Head coach Graham Reid was ecstatic after the historic win. “It’s a fantastic feeling, I must admit. It’s come after a lot of sacrifices everyone in our group have made,” he said after the match.
‘Throughout this tournament, hockey has been like what you say today – it’s never over until it’s over. It went till the very end. It’s very exciting to watch. It’s easy to say that we should do this and do that and keep our eye on the game, but there are a lot of things going on, and you can try practising and practising, but that [the match] is the real test there.
“We talked about it before the match that at some point during the game, things won’t go right. That’s what sport is and so that point is the trigger to move to the next level of the game. To our credit, our boys managed to do that today and get those two goals.”
Indian skipper Manpreet Singh couldn’t hide his emotions. “I don’t know what to say right now,” he said.
“It was fantastic. The way we played today, the boys put in the effort throughout the game. We were 3-1 down. I think we deserve this medal. We’ve been working hard over the last 15 months. We spent so much time away from our family also. Besides the coaches and all, we would like to dedicate this medal to the doctors and warriors who have sacrificed for us and saved so many lives in India and all over the world. I dedicate this medal to those warriors,” Manpreet added.
Germany, which was trailing India by one goal, took its keeper off with less than five minutes on the clock, and won a Penalty Corner with three minutes to go, but India stood firm. Again, with just six seconds left on the clock, Germany went for the equaliser but it was also parried away by P.R. Sreejesh.
On the dying minutes of the match, Manpreet said: “It was so difficult because in the last few seconds, we got a penalty corner, and we just thought we have to save it by giving our lives and that’s what we did. We put our full effort. The way Sreejesh played and the defence played was good but we shouldn’t have given them that kind of opportunity in the last bit.”