Indian hockey is back where it belongs - How the Olympic bronze can spark a revolution for the sport in India

Germany v India - Hockey - Olympics: Day 13
Germany v India - Hockey - Olympics: Day 13

The Indian men's hockey team have created history by winning a medal at the Olympic Games after a gap of 41 years.

Graham Reid's team got past Germany 5-4 in a fast and exciting bronze-medal match of the 2021 Olympic Games played at the Oi Hockey Stadium in Tokyo.

Check Out: Tokyo Olympics 2021 Schedule

Eight-time gold medallist India failed to make it to the semifinals of the Los Angeles Olympics in 1984 and haven't got past the group stages since.

At the Sydney Games in 2000, the Indians came tantalizingly close to qualifying for the semifinals with only minnows Poland in the way but the Europeans equalized in the last minute of play, dashing Indian hopes of an Olympic medal.

Although the Indians were touted as medal hopefuls in the run-up to the Tokyo Olympics, a 1-7 loss to Australia in the group stages of the competition shook the confidence of the team and their die-hard fans.

Manpreet Singh and co. displayed enormous resilience to outplay Spain and Argentina to book a place in the quarterfinals.

Germany v India - Hockey - Olympics: Day 13
Germany v India - Hockey - Olympics: Day 13

A clinical win against Great Britain set up a semi-final clash against the world champions and Rio silver-medalists, Belgium. The Indians failed in their quest for the gold match, going down fighting against a mighty Belgian side. However, they came back strongly in the bronze-medal match against Germany.

From the depths of despair to the heights of glory

After failing to qualify for the Olympic Games in 2008, the fate of Indian hockey seemed to hang in the balance. The public and the media shunned the country's erstwhile national game, despite hockey already struggling to keep up with mainstream sports like cricket.

A last-place finish at the London Olympics in 2012 did little to inspire confidence as the baton passed from one beleaguered coach to another with no easy answers in sight.

Hockey India, which became the sport's governing body after the Indian Hockey Federation was dissolved, went about their job of cleaning up the game at the state and national level in a systematic manner. The results are now there for all to see.

Germany v India - Hockey - Olympics: Day 13
Germany v India - Hockey - Olympics: Day 13

An Asian Games gold medal in 2014 was followed by an unlikely Champions Trophy silver in 2016 where the Indians lost to the once indomitable Australians in a close shootout.

History repeated itself as both teams clashed once more in the last edition of the Champions Trophy in 2018 with the Indians going down in a shootout again.

A place in the World Cup quarterfinal was a huge achievement for the Men in Blue in 2018 and a bronze-medal at the 2021 Olympics has got the game back into the focus of national sport lovers.

India finally has new-age hockey heroes to look up to. Their win in Tokyo today will inspire a million more to pick up a hockey stick.

A medal was just what Indian hockey needed

An Olympic medal was precisely what was needed to catapult hockey back to where it once belonged.

Manpreet Singh and co. have, through their exploits in Tokyo, ensured that the game will now regain its lost status as it hits the headlines across all sections of the Indian media.

Hockey is back - thanks to Graham Reid, a resilient Indian team, and a decade of immense hard work and vision.

Also Read: India vs Germany: History made as Indian men's hockey team beats Germany 5-4 to clinch Olympics bronze medal

Edited by Diptanil Roy

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