The Tokyo Olympics rings a nice bell for hockey lovers in India. 57 years ago, in what was a fiercely contested tournament at the Komazawa Hockey Field in Tokyo, India won their seventh gold medal. They defeated Pakistan, who had snatched their seventh consecutive gold medal at Rome in 1960. The tournament itself is filled with so many interesting anecdotes that it could serve as the basis for an engrossing web series or even an entire film franchise.
Likewise, the Tokyo Olympics is perhaps a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Hockey India to prove their worth. The last time Indian hockey tasted any kind of glory was at Moscow 1980, where the men's team won the gold medal after defeating Spain by 4-3.
Since then, Indian hockey has only gone downhill. Unable to adjust to AstroTurf, Team India has been failing to make it to the semi-finals. From the 1980s to the early 2000s, India held the same position in hockey that South Africa continues to hold in cricket. Despite being one of the best, they choked when they needed their wits the most.
In 2008, we saw the worst, as Team India failed to even make it to the Olympics. 2012 wasn't any better either, because while India made the cut to the men's tournament, they finished a dismal last among 12 teams, failing to win a single match.
However, in Rio, things did change for the better. Though India squandered a well-fought chance to go down by 1-3 in the quarter-finals, their eighth place finish was their best Olympic outing since Athens 2004.
This time, though, Hockey India is a lot different, and it has the potential to regain the glory for which it was once known. The blue turf, the quarter system and the yellow ball has only helped Indian hockey to grow by leaps and bounds. Today, both the men's team and the women's team have a realistic chance to make it to the podium, and here are some ways in which Team India can create history this time: