‘You've got to learn to survive a defeat. That's when you develop character.'
This was Mantra of the Indian women hockey team, who silenced all the critics by upstaging the mighty Australians 1-0 to make history and book their place in the semi-final of the Tokyo Olympics hockey. After three defeats in the league, the three wins thereafter - against Ireland, South Africa and Australia, made the difference for Rani Rampal and her girls.
Playing cool and completely composed, these girls made Australians look mere spectators as they took to the field on Monday.
“They were amazing and the comeback after three defeats with three wins, shows the grit, determination and the positive thinking by the entire team,” said former Indian skipper and coach Joaquim Carvalho while talking to FPJ soon after the match.
“I would say that the defeats were wake up calls for these girls, who have changed the face of Indian women’s hockey with this achievement. I am sure they have more to prove,” added Carvalho, who feels this is the stepping stone for hockey to get a facelift in India.
Both men and women are just one match away from a medal, and going by the approach, hockey pundits are sure medals in hockey are not far way for India.
While women scripted history, the men's team defeated Great Britain on Sunday to enter the last four following a 41-year gap.
Coming into the match, the odds were totally against India, as world No 2 Australia, a mighty unbeaten opponent, awaited them in the last eight round. But the Indians, determined to prove a point, produced a strong and brave performance to eke out the win, against a side which had everything in their favour. The North Pitch of Oi Hockey stadium, had all Indians, including the think tank consumed in the moment. While Australian women was on the knees well aware of what had struck them. It was scene of Agony and Extacy, as the Indians team walked out from the pitch, every individual whether Indian or not, in whatever role he or she was at the venue, gave them huge round of applause.
Calling it perfect team work which did it for Indians, the Moscow gold medal winning team member MM Somaya, “It is the entire team, from the goal keeper all the players. They all contributed to the victory. But I would faulter if I fail to mention Savita Punia under the Indian bar who was exceptionally good,” said Somaya who feels from here any team can.
"It’s the biggest moment for Indian hockey. Men’s and women’s team in semis. I’m super proud of the team," said skipper Rani Rampal after the match.
"This team is like a family, including the coaching staff. Our entire country supports us and everybody's prayers are with us," an elated Gurjit Kaur the goal scorer.
Their route to semis
Men: 25 Jul 2021: India lost to Australia 1-7
1 Aug 2021: India beat Great Britain 3-1 (QF)
Women: 28 Jul 2021: India lost to Great Britain 1-4
2 Aug 2021: India beat Australia
India at a glance
Dutee Chand 7th and last in women's 200m Heat 4; fails to qualify for semifinals.
Kamalpreet Kaur sixth in women's discus final with a best throw of 63.70m.
Fouaad Mirza 25th in eventing jumping individual qualifier; 23rd in final.
Aishwary Pratap Singh Tomar 21st and Sanjeev Rajput 32nd in men's 50m rifle 3 positions qualification; fail to qualify for final.
1 China 29 17 16 62
2 US 22 25 17 64
3 Japan 17 6 10 33
4 Australia 14 4 15 33
5 ROC 12 21 17 50
6 GB 11 12 12 35
7 France 6 10 7 23
8 Germany 6 6 11 23
9 South Korea 6 4 9 19
10 Holland 5 7 6 18
62 India 0 1 1 2
Indians in action today @ the Games
5,50: Annu Rani in women's javelin throw Qualification
3.45: Tajinderpal Singh Toor in men's shot put Qualification
7.00: India vs Belgium in men's semifinal
8.30: Sonam Malik vs Bolortuya Khurelkhuu (Mongolia) in women's 62kg.
Live on Sony Ten 1 HD/SD, Sony Ten 2 HD/SD. Doordarshan Network
will also broadcast the same in India.