Indian women’s hockey team came agonisingly close to winning its first-ever medal at the Olympics but it wasn’t to be as Great Britain just about got over the line in the bronze medal match in Tokyo on Friday. Trailing 0-2, India made a stunning comeback to lead 3-2 but Great Britain equalised in the third quarter and scored another in the final 15 minutes to win the match 4-3. Despite the heartbreak in the bronze match, it was a highly successful tournament for the women’s team. India’s never-say-die spirit throughout the competition won praise from all quarters and while the team missed out on a podium spot, the performance in Tokyo captured the imagination of the entire country.
Coach of the Indian women’s team, Sjoerd Marijne took to Twitter after the heartbreaking loss and said that while “we did not win a medal, but I think we have won something bigger”.
“We did not win a medal, but I think we have won something bigger. We have made Indians proud again and we inspired millions of girls that dreams CAN come true as long as you work hard for it and believe it! Thanks for all the support!”
We did not win a medal, but I think we have won something bigger. We have made Indians proud again and we inspired millions of girls that dreams CAN come true as long as you work hard for it and believe it! Thanks for all the support!
— Sjoerd Marijne (@SjoerdMarijne) August 6, 2021
India’s run in the tournament might have ended in heartbreak but it was nothing short of magical.
The Rani Rampal-led side started on a shaky note, losing the first three matches quite convincingly. This included a 1-5 loss to the Netherlands and 1-4 defeat to Great Britain in the group stage.
However, India managed to stay alive in the tournament, notching their first win with a 1-0 victory over Ireland. They followed it up with a thrilling 4-3 over win over South Africa.
In the quarterfinals, few gave India any hope against the mighty Australians. They had reached the last eight after winning all five matches in the group stage and were being viewed as one of the favourites for gold.
But the Indian team didn’t get overawed by the reputation of their opponents. Instead, they took up the challenge and put in their best performance in recent times to leave the Aussies shell-shocked.
India showed great grit and determination, beating Australia 1-0 to march into the semis.
In the semis, they took on World No.2 Argentina and yet again went toe-to-toe against the higher-ranked team but this time it wasn’t to be as the South Americans registered a narrow 2-1 win.
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