The Indian men-s hockey team turned a corner in their history with a third-place finish at the recently-concluded Tokyo Olympics. The team, led by Manpreet Singh, ended India-s 41-year wait for an Olympics medal in hockey with a thrilling 5-4 win over European giants Germany.
Speaking to media persons at a press event recently, Manpreet shared his experience of leading the team to the podium.
This was my third Olympics. In 2012, we finished last, while in 2016, we went down in the quarter-finals and finished seventh. So, this time, I was determined to finish on the podium. We entered the semi-final with a lot of belief but sadly couldn-t win. However, I do hope that this bronze motivates the next generation to bring home gold.
We worked very hard on our defence. We worked on holding possession after taking lead in the last quarter and keeping the ball in the opposition half as much as possible. All these little changes helped create a habit. Also, the team is physically very fit. So, we don-t tire in the dying minutes anymore and let the opposition outrun us.
I was constantly reminding my boys to hang in there for just 15 minutes. All of us have sacrificed a lot in our lives to reach here, and I didn-t want us to go home empty-handed. I told the boys, -jaan laga do- (give your all), and that-s what they did.
We have a short break now, after which the core probable will assemble in Bengaluru. Our next targets are the Commonwealth Games and the Asian Games that are scheduled next year and the World Cup at home in 2023. We will surely try to win the Asian Games to book a direct berth for Paris Olympics in 2024.