It was indeed a moment of pride for India when our men’s teams defeated Germany 5-4 to clinch the Bronze medal. It was India’s first Olympic medal in 41 years. It was a historic achievement from captain Manpreet Singh and his men.
Speaking with reporters at a felicitation ceremony arranged by Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik, Manpreet said, “In 2008, we did not even qualify for the Olympics. But things have changed over the years, and the results are also showing. Now India has improved its position in world rankings.”
The Indian skipper admits that it took India many years to reach that level. But with infrastructure and support, the future of Indian hockey will change according to him. He added, “Yes, it is true that we took more time to reach here. But now we are getting the infrastructure and all kinds of support required for the world’s best athletes. The future is very bright for hockey in our country.”
The 29-year-old has said that the Indian Men’s team is in no mood to rest after winning the Olympic Bronze medal as they now gear up for the Commonwealth Games, Asian Games and also the World Cup. Consistency is also key for the Men in Blue.
“We will analyse our performance in Tokyo. Wherever required, we will improve and continue to give our best performance,” the India captain said.
When quizzed about the love they get from Odisha, Manpreet was quick to admit the support the team got at the World Cup. The 29-year-old expressed, “We got a lot of love and affection from Odisha during the last World cup that was played in Bhubaneswar. That gave a boost to all of us.”
Indian women’s hockey team captain, Rani Rampal picked up a point which needs to be discussed more. She spoke in favour of holding a hockey league for men’s and women’s. She feels that it will increase the interest among people and also bring up the level of fitness among budding stars. She also adds that a league will help players get ready for major international events. She said, “We had worked hard under the guidance of our scientific advisor to improve our fitness before the Olympics.”
The Indian women’s team also created history in Tokyo as they reached the semifinals for the first time after defeating Australia. However, they lost to Argentina first in the semifinals and then again lost the Bronze medal match against Great Britain to finish fourth.