Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Olympics Hockey: ‘India can learn from how Belgium deal with every situation’

India play Germany for men's Olympic hockey bronze on Thursday

Ahead of the bronze medal match, SAMARNATH SOORY speaks to two of India’s gold medal team from the 1980 Olympics as the men in blue aim to learn from the importance of smallest margins at the top level 

If Indian hockey’s Olympic Games history is a geographical location, it would be Mount Fuji. 

Once an all-consuming force of nature, the great volcanic landmark has been lying dormant for years. Between 1928-80 Indian men’s team had won eight gold, one silver and two bronze medals. None since then. 

About 86 miles Southeast of Fuji at the Oi Hockey Stadium, Manpreet Singh and his team set out to reignite the smouldering embers of their forebearers’ glorious legacy. They did succeed. Barring the 7-1 trouncing at the hands of Australia, they played scintillating hockey in group games and qualified for the quarter-finals in second place. 

They buried the devils of the quarter-final exit at Rio 2016 by outclassing Great Britain 3-1 and faced a familiar foe in the form of Belgium. This was the same opposition which they held off 2-2 in the 2018 World Cup group stages and beat 2-1 in the first leg of FIH Pro League at home in 2020. Sandwiched between these results were India’s three wins against Belgium in Antwerp. 

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