When a new and uncertain Indian Hockey team went to their first Olympics in 1928, they stunned the world as they took home a gold medal. The team never looked back since, and was and still is India’s pride and glory. Over the course of around fifty years the team brought home 11 medals, 8 of which were gold. They prosperity was under the likes of several legends including Dhyan Chand, Balbir Singh Jr. and Udham Singh among the plethora who went to the Olympics as a part of the Indian Hockey team.
Unfortunately, after the 1980 Moscow Olympics where India took home the gold, the team is yet to regain that title, not even finding a medal at the Olympics till date. The new team that was announced for the Tokyo Olympics is certainly one that may be able to break the 41 year old drought in a country that was once considered the best in hockey.
Can the young Indian team this year finally get a medal back for India?
The Dynamics of Indian Hockey team going to the Tokyo Olympics
When the Indian Men’s Hockey team for the Tokyo Olympics has 10 of the 16 players, who would be making their debut at the Olympics this year. Manpreet Singh would be making his way back to the Olympics for the third time, this time as captain.
The team of 16 consists of one goalkeeper, who will be highly relied upon, and an experienced Shreejesh will certainly be able to cope under the pressure. There was some disagreement with the team, as veterans SV Sunil and Akashdeep Singh were left out of the team.
The younger players like Shamsher Singh, Mandeep Singh, and Lalit Kumar Upadhyay are more than capable enough of taking India to victory. The team as a whole is well thought out, and considering the various factors that come into play, the mix of rookies and experienced players is a promising combination.
India’s coach Graham Reid, has also played an important role in getting the team together and playing well, bringing in a positive and success-driven mentality. His experience in high-level matches will definitely pay off for India at the Tokyo Olympics.
The Consistent Performance of the Men’s Hockey Team
The Indian Men’s Hockey team is currently ranked 4th in the world. Australia, Belgium, and the Netherlands take the first three spots, and India is not far behind. A massive victory came for India when they won the 2019 FIH Men’s Series. They won the finals by a big margin, beating South Africa 5-1, and served as a big confidence boost for the team.
Since there were no other major events lined up for the team, they played at the Tokyo Olympics test event, where they went up against Japan, Malaysia, and New Zealand. They had another very successful run, beating out New Zealand 5-0.
They later had a Belgium tour, where they played three matches against the reigning world champions Belgium and two matches against Spain. The Indian team had a clean sweep of this tour, beating Belgium 2-0, 2-1, and 5-1, and continued this streak by winning against Spain 6-1 and 5-1.
The biggest test for the Indians came up at the end of the year when the team went against Russia at the Olympic Qualifiers. Needless to say, they delivered again, beating Russia easily with a score of 11-3.
Success in the Run Up to the Tokyo Olympics
The year 2020 began with FIH Pro League, where India would be tested against countries like Argentina and Australia. The performance of the team was impressive as India started their campaign with a win against the Netherlands (5-2).
The second match was a success as well, with the Indians winning against the Dutch 3-1 in shootouts. India had an impressive performance against the Belgians and the strong Australians, winning one leg of the match each.
After a long break due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Indian team began 2021 with a tour of Germany and England respectively. The strong form of the team that they had built up during the pandemic showed, with a big win against Germany (6-1) and a draw (1-1) in the second match. The result was similar against England with the matches ending with a score of 1-1 and 3-2.
The team took the field for the last time against Argentina, after the resumption of the FIH Pro League, and won both the matches.
Can the Hockey Team end India’s 41 year Drought?
Going into the Tokyo Olympics, the Indian hockey team is considered to be one of the favorites to finish on the podium. The team has displayed its capabilities of winning against all the teams during the FIH Pro League. It seems like Indian Hockey Team has finally clicked and will be able to pull off a victory at the Olympics this year.
The experience of athletes like Manpreet Singh, Shreejesh, and Rupinder Pal Singh will come in handy under high-pressure situations. The young debutants of the team like Shamsher Singh and Dilpreet Singh have rounded off the team well. The hopes from the Indian Hockey team are high, as it looks to bring India glory once again at the Olympics.
Also read: Tokyo Olympics: Indian women’s hockey team named for Summer Games