Indians who have qualified for the Tokyo Olympics so far - Part 2
Indian men's team
Hockey, which was considered to be India's biggest medal hope in the Olympics a few decades ago has now seen a steady decline in terms of the results over the past few years. However, the Indian men's hockey team sealed an Olympic berth after defeating Russia in a two-match playoff at the final stage of FIH Olympic qualifiers in Bhubaneshwar.
In the first leg, the Indian team, who are ranked 5th in the world got the better of the 22nd ranked Russia with a 4-2 scoreline. The second leg was a completely one-sided affair as the experienced Indian side completely outclassed their counterparts 7-1, thus taking the total scoreline to 11-3 in the home team's favour.
In a newly introduced qualification format by FIH, each team has to go through a series of qualification rounds before making it to the final stage. India secured its quota by winning the FIH Series Finals in Bhubaneswar earlier this year.
Prior to this tournament, the Men in Blue led by Manpreet Singh defeated the reigning World and European Champion, the No.2 ranked Belgium and World No.8 Spain in a five-match series that took place in Antwerp.
They won 2-0 against the hosts in the opening encounter before thrashing Spain 6-1 and 5-1 in the next two games. This was then followed by two more wins (2-1 & 5-1) against the stronger Belgian team, thus claiming a clean sweep against the European giants.
India, along with hosts Japan are the only two teams from Asia who have qualified for the biggest sporting quadrennial event.
Indian women's team
The Indian eves, who will be participating in their third Summer Olympics after 1980 and 2016 will be looking to improve on their performance from the 2016 Olympics where they finished 12th and were knocked out in the group stage of the tournament.
The Indian team won the FIH series finals in Hiroshima earlier this year to make the cut for the final stage of the qualifiers against the U.S.
Ranked 13th in the world, a determined American team was of no match to the World No. 9 India in the first-leg as the women in blue triumphed with a comfortable 5-1 margin on their home turf.
However, as the experts say "a lot can change over fortnight" and that is what happened when the two teams met again on the very next day, the match had all the drama, excitement and suspense in it.
After facing the humiliation from their higher-ranked opponents the previous day, the American women came back strongly to take a 4-0 lead at the end of first half. The goal aggregate soon became 5-5, but eventually it was the skipper Rani Rampal who came to the rescue as she scored a brilliant goal in the 48th minute of the match, to help India clinch a 6-5 lead and with that, a spot in the 2020 Olympics.Published 22 Nov 2019, 10:37 IST