In his inaugural address, the 35th President of the United States, John F Kennedy voiced the historical words “Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country,” encouraging every American to do something good for their nation.
Well, this morning, the great President’s words reverberated in my head as our Men’s Hockey Team more than did something for our country by bringing home the elusive medal (bronze) after 41 long years to reminisce the glory days of the past when World Hockey shuddered just hearing the name INDIA.
Such was their skill and charisma then!
Perhaps our relentless support served as the catalyst to ignite the passion for these 16 brave men to strive with much valour towards a podium finish as team India held their nerve to overcome the might of the German challenge in a contest that went right down to the wire.
Yes, India finally got the last hurrah as the match unfolded 5-4 in their favour when the referee called time on the final 60.
What made even happier is a sport that is considered a religion in this country wasn’t responsible for this immense pleasure albeit another one which now more than deserves the due recognition financially and emotionally.
After all, with all due respect to our national cricket team, they haven’t won a major ICC trophy in the last 7 to 8 years and still the quintessential Indian fan keeps singing their praises.
So, I humbly ask a question, isn’t it time they realise another Indian team should be put on the same pedestal?
Well, I surely hope so!
Having said this, at least in my eyes, what the Indian Hockey team have accomplished soothes my soul as we dissect their incredible showing enroute to the bronze finish:
Spoils are shared in the first half amid goals galore
Both teams amid the disappointment of not competing for the gold, had everything to prove in this fixture to still salvage a podium finish.
Germany was the one to draw first blood in just 90 secs into the game as they went one up through a field goal.
India came back strong as they managed an equaliser through the effervescent Simranjeet Singh as the second quarter got underway through a delicious reverse stick strike.
Not to take this equaliser lying down, the German forwards came full throttle at India and as a result inflicted two more strikes on the Men In Blue.
India were reeling, being 3-1 down with less than six minutes to go till half time.
The Bharat Army not the ones to relent under pressure, came back strong through Hardik Singh as he scored off a penalty corner as the gap was reduced to just one goal.
In a matter of moments, Harmanpreet Singh, the pride of our penalty corner conversions got the score line all square though yet another PC hurrah.
When the clock struck 30, the score read Germany 3 – 3 India. The Men in Blue had done well to even the odds.
The Singhs are on song as Sreejesh shows resilience in the second half
As the third quarter got underway, India earned a penalty stroke and the dependable Rupinder Pal Singh hammered his team into the lead.
The lead was then doubled through a brilliant strike by Simranjeet Singh as he got his brace and India looked comfortable heading towards the podium finish courtesy the Singhs who were completely on song.
India just had to hold their two-goal advantage as the Germans tried their best to reduce the lead.
Minutes into the fourth quarter, Germany managed to get one back through a penalty corner conversion as their relentless attacks continued deep into this quarter.
PR Sreejesh, the wall in India’s goal, stood tall as he blocked numerous penalty corner attempts by the Germans with the last one coming with just 6.8 second left on the clock.
India had seen the match through as a dream 41 years in the making had finally been realised. The scenes were incredible as tears of joy poured down my eyes.
My team had done it and boy was I thrilled!
Our women also need to surmount a podium finish to complete the treat
The treat will only be complete as another Indian team who has put up a showing of immense satisfaction through their sheer grit and determination should also win their match against Great Britain to deservedly accomplish a bronze.
I am talking about none other than our team of 16 brave ladies who are simply WOW – Women Of Will.
They have conquered all odds and exceeded all expectations to rightfully be in the hunt for a bronze. Their maiden Olympic medal.
So, as I end this piece my Dear Warriors, please get the medal home as nothing else will suffice and only then can our nation truly soar to the core!