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Hockey

A hockey medal at Tokyo Olympics would be a fitting tribute to Balbir, Keshav, Kaushik

A medal in hockey at the Tokyo Olympics will end India's 41-year drought at the Games and a tribute to legendary hockey players.

Indian Hockey Team
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India Hockey (Source: Business Standard)

Author

Nirmit Mehta

Updated: 2021-07-19T21:16:29+05:30

Hockey has always been one of the leading sports in India. India has enjoyed a tremendous amount of success in Hockey at the Olympics. India itself invented the sport, and as such, it is just fitting that they are the most successful hockey team in Olympic history. India has won a total of 11 medals, including eight gold in hockey at the Olympic Games, with the last one coming back in 1980 Moscow Games.

The Indian men's team won six consecutive titles at the Olympics between 1928 and 1956, where they scored 178 goals and conceded just seven. At a point, the Indian hockey team was unbeaten in 30 consecutive matches.

The hockey fraternity faced some a great losses in the last one year with the demise of three stalwarts from India's golden era.

Triple Olympic gold medallist Balbir Singh Sr breathed his last in May 2020. He was a member of the 1948 London Olympics gold medal-winning Indian hockey team, apart from being the vice-captain of the 1952 victorious side and skipper of the 1956 champions. Post his playing days, Singh was also the chief coach-manager of the Indian team starting 1961 and donned the chief coach's role in eight tournaments till 1982. Under his tenure, India won their only title at the Hockey World Cup in 1975.

Just a year later, Arjuna and Dronacharya awardee Maharaj Kishen Kaushik passed away in May 2021. A member of the 1980 gold-winning Olympic side, Kaushik was one of the rare hockey personalities who excelled both as a player and coach. More remarkably, he excelled as a coach with both the men's and women's teams, guiding them to the podium at major continental events, including the Asian Games and the Asia Cup. A right-winger, Kaushik was known for his speed and thrust as a player.

The last one to join the list was Keshav Datta, who breathed his last earlier this month. The formidable half-back was a part of India's historic 1948 and 1952 Olympics titles.

The Indian men's hockey team have failed to win a single medal at the Olympics in the past 41 years, and the wait for glory at the Summer Games continues. Could this be the year they end this prolonged medal drought?

Indian Men's hockey team is currently ranked fourth in the Hockey World Rankings, and they have a decent chance of making a podium finish at Tokyo Olympics 2021. A medal in hockey at the Tokyo Olympics will end India's 41-year drought of medal in hockey which will be tribute to the hockey players of yesteryears like Balbir Singh, Keshav Datta, Kaushik, who passed away in 2020 and 2021.


Indian Men's Hockey Team with a decent chance of a podium finish at Tokyo Olympics

Indian men;s hockey team (Source: Hockey India)

Indian Men's Team had an impressive start to their Tokyo 2020 preparations,The roster for the year 2020 started with the much-awaited FIH Pro League. India opened their campaign against World no. 3 Netherlands. The Manpreet Singh brigade oozed confidence with 5-2 victory in the first leg followed by another win in the shootouts. Their biggest challenge was waiting in the month of February 2020, where they faced World Champions Belgium and top-ranked Australia. Our men gave the teams a run for the money, winning one leg against each of them.




Followed by the prolonged gap owing to coronavirus, the Indian team returned to action in February this year with a tour against world no. 5 and 6 Germany and England, respectively. India posted an emphatic 6-1 win over Germany in the opening match followed by a 1-1 draw. Similar results were achieved against England with a 1-1 draw and a 3-2 victory. The last time India took the field was during the resumption of the FIH Pro League against Argentina, ranked seventh in the world. India won both their matches against the host in Buenos Aires with satisfying results in the practice games.
After playing all the top seven teams in the last year, India has been dubbed as one of the major challengers for the podium finish in the Tokyo Olympics. Graham Reid's boys displayed without a shadow of a doubt that the wins against the Dutch, Australian, and Argentinians were no flash in the pan and that the team is clicking as a whole.
The aggressive and cohesive Indian squad, which has been impressive throughout the past couple of years, can pull off the biggest surprise package at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics for the podium finish, where it counts the most. This would be the true tribute to the three of India's greatest hockey stalwarts - Balbir, Kaushik and Keshav.


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