We were nervous but well prepared for Germany: Simranjeet

Some of the young members in the Tokyo squad recall growing up watching Olympians despair over India’s continued failures to win medals on the big stage.
India players celebrate after India's Simranjeet Singh scored on Germany during the men's field hockey bronze medal match at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics(AP) PREMIUM
India players celebrate after India's Simranjeet Singh scored on Germany during the men's field hockey bronze medal match at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics(AP)
Published on Aug 05, 2021 11:51 PM IST
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ByAvishek Roy, Tokyo

Indian had won their previous Olympic hockey medal so far back that none of the class of 2021 should have felt the burden of past failures. Still, those reverses were hard to shake off in a nation that showed with celebrations for Thursday’s bronze medal playoff win how passionate it still is when it comes to discussing hockey.

Some of the young members in the Tokyo squad recall growing up watching Olympians despair over India’s continued failures to win medals on the big stage.

Simranjeet Singh, a livewire on the field and whose brace helped India beat Germany 5-4 in the playoff said he grew up hearing about India’s past glory in hockey with seniors lamenting about the opportunities lost.

“When I was small, our seniors used to tell us about our past record in the Olympics and the lost opportunities to get a medal. “Now it is up to you guys to get a hockey medal” is something I have heard so many times. I am happy we were able to achieve that dream today,” said Simranjeet.

Born in Uttar Pradesh, Simranjeet, 24, moved to Gurdaspur in Punjab to play the game.

“There was no great infrastructure for hockey in UP so I moved to Punjab.

“It is such a precious moment for me, I scored on the most important day of Indian hockey and it helped the team.”

Simranjeet said he had visualised playing well in the game. “Whenever I think in my subconscious mind that I am doing well for the team, I perform better.

“Germany has a well-organised defence, they put us under pressure but we never flinched. It was difficult after the semi-final match but yesterday we had four team meetings. We discussed and analysed the positives and negative parts. After coming so close we absolutely did not want to go back without a medal. “The best part was that we stuck together. We played as a team."

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Youngsters Simranjeet, Dilpreet Singh, Hardik Singh and Gurjant Singh who have played their part in the team's success eagerly made video calls home.

“It doesn’t matter whatever happens in our career from here, we have an Olympic hockey medal to show,” Dilpreet laughed.

Harmanpreet Singh, India’s top-scorer in the tournament with six goals, said there were nerves before the playoff but they had confidence in their preparations.

“There was tension but the way we have been preparing in the last 1.5-2 years, we were confident of a podium finish. It is because of this confidence that we have reached here today. Of course, there was pressure, how one would expect in a bronze medal match, but we dealt with it nicely and we finished the match on a high.”

“We covered the mistakes we made in the semi-finals (loss to Belgium) because of which we won today. It was a team effort, whether creating penalty corners or converting them.

“India knows the importance of this medal and what it means to us. We are proud of winning this bronze, and India is proud of it too.”

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Friday, January 28, 2022