Monday, December 6, 2021
SportHockeyNo podium finish, so what as tearful Indian women lose to Britain

No podium finish, so what as tearful Indian women lose to Britain

Published: 6th Aug 2021 11:13 pm

Hyderabad: Indian could not emulate the men’s hockey team of a podium finish and thereby failing to win their maiden Olympic medal. But so what? They conquered the hearts. The Rani Rampal-led team has all the reasons to hold their heads high as they had a fairytale run in their Olympic rendezvous.

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From a 12th-place finish in 2016 Rio Olympics to fourth place is a remarkable turnaround achievement. They made history with epoch-making performances. Even in this bronze-medal match, they battled hard before going down 3-4 at the Tokyo Olympics on Friday.

Chief coach Sjoerd Marijne made important observations. This heroic show will surely inspire younger generation to take to the game, play and win laurels in big tournaments like Olympics and World Cups. This could be the beginning of a new era. I liked what he said: “We did not win a medal, but I think we have won something bigger. We have made Indians proud again and we inspired millions of girls that dreams CAN come true as long as you work hard for it and believe it! ”

This tweet is significant. The hard-working Marijne believed in this team. He had a difficult challenge than Graham Reid. But he worked very hard in this project Tokyo Mission. The women’s team scripted a truly unbelievable story, virtually a Chak de India moment. They showed character, energy and the enterprise in this brilliant run. They started on a wrong note losing three matches before turning the tables. The high point of the run was the big win over Australia in the quarterfinal.

It was sad to see the players crying after the match as the journey ended without a podium finish. They did raise expectation but the end the better team won on the day. But we must celebrate this Olympic journey of this women’s team.

This bronze-medal match was all about holding the nerves. The Indian perhaps made a few mistakes, particularly the rough tackle by Udita in the crucial stages of the fourth quarter when the teams were at 3-3. She received a yellow card and India were reduced to ten players. Britain were awarded a penalty corner and they converted to make it 4-3. It proved costly for India.

Britain were two goals ahead through Elena Rayer (16th) and Sarah Robertson (24th). But India rallied splendidly through Gurjit Kaur’s two short corners (25th, 26th minutes). For India the biggest positive factor is the emergence of Gurjit as drag flicker. She was very effective and accurate. India took the lead through Vandana Katariya, who impressed with fine runs. It was brilliant piece of goal in the 29th minute.

Britain mounted pressure India goalkeeper Savita yet again stood like a wall before she was beaten by skipper Hollie Pearne-Webb (35th) and Grace Bladson (48th minute). The defence caved in as Britain got three successive short corners before Baldson flicked in that went through Savita’s legs.

(The author is a three-time Olympic champion)

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