Thursday morning was an emotional one in India and in the land of rising sun, Japan, as the Indian men’s hockey team defeated Germany 5-4 in a thriller to win the Bronze medal match at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.
After a rollercoaster win in the game, the players celebrated as the famous song Chak De India played out in the background at the Oi Stadium in Tokyo.
India’s Bronze was a first medal at the Olympic Games in 41 years and a first Bronze after 49 years. A generation and more had waited to see this day.
One of the senior most members of the team Rupinderpal Singh said he hoped this would inspire a generation while captain Manpreet dedicated the win to all the frontline workers who helped fight the pandemic.
‘People Had Forgotten Hockey’
“It's a great feeling. We came here for Gold. But we won the Bronze medal. It's a great thing. We are happy today. Great moment for us and fans back home.
It has been a long time. They waited for a long-time. I am sure people are celebrating back home and hope hockey becomes popular in India again. People had forgotten hockey. Had stopped hoping for medals. We have a good future now. This team has the potential to win and earn more medals,” Rupinderpal Singh said after the match.
“Dedicate the medal to all frontline workers and COVID-19 warriors. Our journey hasn’t finished, it’s just started. We now wish the women's team the best. They'll win medal tomorrow, I'm sure,” captain Manpreet Singh said.
And while the players celebrated, the current Indian coach, Graham Reid, a veteran of 5 Olympic Games said that he understands the importance of the medal for India.
“I really don't but I do know what it means. Apart from the country, this group has dreamed of a medal for a very long time. Know how much hockey means to the country. There are a number of emotions. My 5th Olympics. I sort of get how important the Olympics is. Personally very important for me. What we can change is the future and they did that today,” Reid said.
Former India coach Harendra Singh was unable to control his emotions after the win, as he praised Sreejesh and reiterated the captain’s point, that there’s more to come from this team.
“I can't explain my happiness. Have waited for 22-years. How much the coaches and staff have struggled. Gave their blood, sweat and tears. This is just the beginning. Mark my words. I am so so proud. (Tears up, wiping his tears). I salute Graham Reid. He invested in youngsters and today we are on the podium. The journey has just started. We should celebrate. Need to start thinking about the 2023 World Cup. This team is going to perform. They have all the skills. This is going to inspire the coming generations. This is just the appetizer. Main Course is yet to come. Sreejesh has been one of the finest goalkeepers in this Olympics. He has played a huge role. He always guided the defenders. He has sacrificed a lot for this moment. I can go on writing about Sreejesh's sacrifices,” the former coach said on the broadcast after the game.
. Read more on Hockey by The Quint.Indian Men's Team Create History; Win Hockey Bronze at Tokyo Olympics Journey's Just Begun: Who Said What as India Men Win Hockey Bronze at Olympics . Read more on Hockey by The Quint.