Hockey India overlooked midfielder Simranjeet Singh's addition to the probable 16-member team for the 2021 Tokyo Olympics. Nevertheless, he was foreordained to be a part of the bronze medal winning squad.
The 24-year-old was not included in Graham Reid’s initial squad for the Tokyo Summer Games.
It was only after the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) decision to allow alternate athletes due to the COVID-19 pandemic, that he was picked in the team as part of the new extended 18-member squad. India picked Simranjeet Singh and Varun Kumar as the reserves.
It was not a cakewalk for the midfielder yet. Simranjeet warmed the bench in the first two matches against New Zealand and Australia. Nonetheless, India's excruciating defeat at the hands of Australia opened the doors for Simranjeet.
Simranjeet's approach during the training sessions grabbed all the attention required for his inclusion in the playing eleven. The rest is history.
Simranjeet made his Tokyo Olympic debut in the third match, against Spain, and scored a goal. There was no looking back thereafter as he played all the matches. He fortified a medal for the nation as he scored a brace in the match against Germany in the bronze medal match.
Simranjeet Singh had several outstanding performances at the Tokyo Olympics
Simranjeet was remarkable for Team India at the 2021 Olympics, making an imperative impact in crucial games. He recollected the leverage hockey legend Sardar Singh had on his gameplay.
Speaking about the team’s support during the historic Olympic triumph, Simranjeet said:
“Sardar Singh played in the same position as me. He was someone I always looked up to and I eagerly listened to his advice. “He always told me to make the most of every chance I got and to never let them go to waste. He reinforced in me the desire to give 100% at every camp and show the selectors my hunger to be in the team, every single day," said Simranjeet Singh.
The 24-year-old also credited the seniors for guiding him and sharing useful tips that he connotes till date.
“Before that match, we were aware that this was our last chance to win a medal for the country. The senior players sat us down and told us that this was our only shot to turn our struggles over the last two years into something worthwhile. Their motivational speeches gave us a huge boost. So, our morale before the match was high and we were quite self-confident," added Simranjeet.