Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik congratulated the men’s hockey team this morning, after they beat Germany 5-4 in a nail-biting match to claim the bronze medal at the Tokyo Games.
“Many congratulations to our hockey team… the whole of India is so excited, as is Odisha, of course. We are all behind you and wish you the very best,” Mr Patnaik said in a brief video interaction with members of the history-making team.
Earlier today Prime Minister Modi also spoke to the men’s hockey team to congratulate them on their impressive performance. The Prime Minister spoke to captain Manpreet Singh and Head Coach Graham Reid, and told them the country was proud of them for scripting history.
The men’s hockey team won India’s first Olympic hockey medal in over four decades after gallantly holding off a late charge from the Germans. The last time India won an Olympic hockey medal was during the 1980 Moscow Games, when they beat Spain 4-3 in a close encounter.
That was the men’s team’s eighth gold… and last medal, until today.
For India Simranjeet Singh scored a brace, while Hardik Singh, Harmanpreet Singh and Rupinder Pal Singh popped up vital goals. Germany’s Timur Oraz opened the scoring, with Niklas Wellen, Benedikt Furk and Lukas Windfeder also on the scoresheet.
It was a tense finish to the game, as the Germans were awarded a penalty corner with just seconds left on the clock. But India’s PR Sreejesh rose to the challenge, blocking the ball to secure bronze.
“We are looking forward to receiving our Indian hockey team in Bhubaneswar on the 16th… and, once again, we wish you all the very best, for all of you, for the future,” Mr Patnaik said.
The success of India’s hockey teams in Tokyo owes a lot to the support offered to the sport by Odisha, which is the only state to sponsor a national team.
Hockey is seen as an integral part of the state’s culture and the Odisha government has conducted several major tournaments in Bhubaneswar over the past years, including the men’s World Cup.
The India women’s hockey team will have a chance to script more history for the country when they take on Great Britain in the bronze medal match.
The women’s team, which had qualified for the last four for the first time ever, had slipped to a heartbreaking 1-2 defeat to Argentina in their semifinal.
With input from ANI