A 41-year wait has ended in Tokyo. India’s men hockey team defeated Germany 5-4 to clinch bronze medal at the Tokyo Olympics - their first ever medal at the Games since 1980 and 12th overall. India, an eight-time Olympic hockey champion, have thus secured their third ever bronze medal at the marquee event.
Having lost 2-5 in the semi-final to world champion Belgium on Tuesday, India entered the bronze medal clash bearing the heavy weight of history. They were up against Germany - a four-time Olympic champions themselves and the bronze medal winning from Rio Games in 2016.
India conceded early - in the 2nd minute itself with Timur Oruz scoring a field goal to give Germany a 1-0 lead which they held on to at the end of the first quarter.
India though recovered and drew level in quick time, two minutes into the second quarter when Simranjeet scored via a field goal to make it one-all. However, in the 24th minute, Niklas Mellen restore his team’s one-goal advantage.
A minute later 2-1 became 3-1 with Benedikt Furk scoring a field goal of his own.
The Indian response to the quick setbacks was swift.
Hardik Singh scored a couple of minutes later with Indian converting a penalty corner to make it 3-2. Riding the momentum, they won another penalty corner two minutes later and Harmanpreet Singh made no mistake to make it 3-3.
After an eventful start, the half-time break came as a much needed breather for the two opponents with the first two quarters already accounting for six goals in total.
Third quarter belonged to India who came refreshed as they pounded two goals in the space of three minutes to take a two-goal lead. First, Rupinder Pal Singh scored his first goal of the match scoring through a penalty stroke in the 31st minute to hand his team a 1-0 lead.
Then, Simranjeet scored his second field goal of the match to make it 5-3 in the 34th minute. India maintained their two-goal advantage in the third quarter and just 15 minutes separated them from glory.
However, the Germans came back strongly in the final quarter and Lukas Windfeder finally converted his first penalty corner after several unsuccessful attempts before to throw the game wide open with India still leading 5-4.
As the quarter drew to a close, Germans flooded the Indian half, won a penalty corner but India managed to defend their slim lead. 30 seconds and they had a long corner. The nerves.
Seven seconds remaining on the clock and Germany won yet another penalty corner. Players of the two teams regrouped. And off went the hooter.
India men’s hockey team, bronze medal winner at Tokyo 2020.