The Indian men’s hockey team midfielder Hardik Singh has had a memorable experience at his debut Olympic Games. The 22-year-old was one of the key figures in the Indian hockey team’s midfield. He scored two crucial goals in Tokyo to help the Indian men’s hockey team’s cause of winning an Olympic medal.
Winning an Olympic medal that has eluded the Indian men’s hockey team for 41 years stands out as Hardik Singh’s best takeaway from the Tokyo Olympics.
However, constant improvisation and introspection is the need of the hour as the Indian men’s hockey team prepares to breach the new benchmark set a couple of months ago. And for Hardik Singh, he feels the time is ripe for him to showcase that he is poised for the bigger stages. In an interaction with Hockey India, Hardik Singh said the learnings from his second-biggest tournament were immense.
"After the 2018 World Cup, this (Tokyo Olympics) was my second major tournament with the senior team, and I wasn't really satisfied with my performance in the World Cup. Hence, I wanted to prove to myself that I can do better on bigger stages. So, for me, it was a great challenge, and I am glad that I did well, and was able to contribute to the team's success.”
The goal that helped Indian men's hockey team
For Hardik Singh, the stand-out moment at the Tokyo Olympics was the field goal he scored against England in the quarter-finals. The goal he scored, in the 57th minute, put India on a two-goal cushion (3-1) and put the match beyond Great Britain’s reach.
Recalling the iconic goal, Hardik Singh said:
"It was a team goal and our defensive line stuck together to hold a 2-1 lead in a very crucial phase of the game as we were down to 10 men. Harmanpreet tackled the ball really well, he then passed it to me, and I had open space to penetrate into the striking circle, although my shot bounced off the goalkeeper's pad, and I received the rebound, and found the back of the net.
'Nilakanta also played a crucial role here as he blind spotted the goalkeeper, which helped me find the gap during that rebound."
The exploits at the Tokyo Olympics have now given the confidence that the Indian men’s hockey team will gun for the gold medal in three years’ time when the team plays at the Paris Olympics.
To make the passage smooth to Paris, the Indian men’s hockey team has set their sights on winning the gold medal at the next year’s Asian Games. Hardik Singh stated that the team is approaching their next goal step by step. He explained:
"We are eager to begin our quest for winning the gold medal at the Paris Olympics. We will have to approach step-by-step, and our first step will be to qualify directly for the Olympic Games 2024 by winning Gold at the 2022 Asian Games.
'Then in 2023, we have another marquee event - the hockey World Cup, which will be played in Odisha, so there are challenging and exciting times ahead, and we are looking forward to it.”