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Tokyo 2020: Know Your Olympians: India Women's Hockey Team

The Rani Rampal-led India women's hockey squad (Pic Credit: Hockey India)

The Rani Rampal-led India women's hockey squad (Pic Credit: Hockey India)

Tokyo Olympics, India Men Hockey Team Profile: Having qualified for a second straight Olympics, the Rani Rampal-led outfit will be eager to break India's wait for a medal in women's hockey.

Women’s hockey made its Olympic debut in Moscow 1980. Then six teams took part at the showpiece event and Zimbabwe took gold. India were among the participants and finished fourth. It took India 36 years to qualify for the quadrennial games again. However, this time the field had doubled from all those years. There were 12 teams and the competition was intense.

India finished last as Great Britain won their maiden Olympic gold.

Not that the expectations from the India squad were high. For them, making it to the event itself was an achievement. Now, this is not to question their intentions. Of course, the squad took the field to win but the stage served more of a reality check than a chance at glory. The players got a taste of what it is to play at an Olympic and what it takes to excel when the competition is tough and the pressure sky-high.

And the lessons learned from Rio seem to have served the team well. They have, for the first time in their history, made it to successive Olympics and are a vastly improved bunch than in 2016. The squad has eight veterans and eight Olympic debutantes. Under coach Sjoerd Marijne, they have graduated from the days when a narrow defeat was satisfactory. Now, no result is acceptable other than a win.

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The general assumption is that the team has the capability to win a medal. However, Marijne says the realistic target for the team is making the quarters. Only two teams in the competition are ranked lower than India and hence the pragmatism.

  • Sport/Discipline: Field Hockey (Women)
  • World Ranking: 10
  • First Olympics: 1980, Moscow (Russia)
  • Tokyo Olympics Group: India are in Group A alongside defending champions Argentina, world champion Australia, hosts Japan, Spain and New Zealand.

At Olympics

  • Fourth: 1980, Moscow
  • 12th: 2016, Rio

World Cup

  • Fourth: 1974, Mandelie (France)

Asian Games

  • Gold: 1982, New Delhi
  • Bronze: 1986, Seoul
  • Silver: 1998, Bangkok
  • Bronze: 2006, Doha
  • Bronze: 2014, Incheon
  • Silver: 2018, Jakarta

Asia Cup

  • Gold: 2004, New Delhi
  • Gold: 2017, Kakamigahara

Commonwealth Games

  • Gold: 2002, Manchester

Asian Champions Trophy

Gold: 2016, Singapore

Tokyo Olympic Qualification

In November 2019, India faced USA in a two-legged FIY Olympics Qualifiers at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar. India recorded a 5-1 win in the first match but survived a massive scare despite 1-4 in the second fixture. They made the cut on 6-5 aggregate and booked a third ever Olympic spot.

Performance at Rio 2016

The team took it more as a learning experience. They did start well, securing a 2-2 draw with Japan that saw them coming back from a goal down twice during the contest. However, this was to be their best performance from the event. as they conceded 17 goals in their following four fixtures while managing a solitary goal while losing to Great Britain, Australia, United States and Argentina.

India Squad

  • Goalkeeper: Savita
  • Defenders: Deep Grace Ekka, Nikki Pradhan, Gurjit Kaur, Udita
  • Midfielders: Nisha, Neha, Sushila Chanu Pukhrambam, Monika, Navjot Kaur, Salima Tete
  • Forwards: Rani, Navneet Kaur, Lalremsiami, Vandana Katariya, Sharmila Devi

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