‘It’s a proud and emotional moment for us,’ says Indian Men’s Hockey Defender Harmanpreet Singh & Chief Coach Graham Reid

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Tokyo: The date 05 August 2021 will be etched in Indian hockey fans’ memories forever as the Indian Men’s Hockey Team scripted a fantastic comeback against Germany to win the Bronze Medal at the Tokyo Olympics here on Thursday. The Indian team was trailing 1-3 in the 25th minute, however, Hardik Singh (27′), Harmanpreet Singh (29′), Rupinder Pal Singh (31′) and Simranjeet Singh (34′) found the back of the net in quick succession to help their team take a lead at 5-3 in the 34th minute. The Germans found a breakthrough in the 48th minute, however, they couldn’t equalize the score as the Indian Team went on to make history at the Oi Hockey Stadium.

Speaking about the historic feat during a virtual media conference, Indian Men’s Hockey Defender and Vice-Captain Harmanpreet Singh said, “It was a proud moment for us when we won the Bronze Medal. It was an emotional moment as well because India has won an Olympic Medal in hockey after a long time. It’s a big thing to win an Olympic Medal and we have made a lot of sacrifices. We were in Bengaluru for one and a half years and there was lockdown. We focussed on staying strong mentally. We stayed as a family together in Bengaluru and I think that helped us a lot in the Olympics. The entire team has put in a very good effort and that’s why we have won a Medal.”

When asked about what was discussed within the team when the score was 3-3 at half-time, the Defender said, ” Today, at half-time we spoke about owning the moment and making sure that we don’t have any regrets after the match. We also spoke about our processes and playing our own game. We didn’t want to think about whether we were losing or not and we spoke about believing in ourselves, believing in our hard work and looked to play simple hockey.”

Indian Men’s Hockey Chief Coach Graham Reid praised the team’s fightback in the Bronze Medal match, “It was a fantastic performance by the team today, apart from the first 7-8 minutes. The Germans were very pumped from the very first whistle today and we paid the price early. The team made a great fightback today. One of the pleasing performances of the day was that we were 3-1 down after having lost the Semi-Final and most teams would struggle with that situation a little mentally and I think the team’s comeback showed you where the group was today. Getting up to 5-3 from 1-3 was a wonderful performance today.”

The Chief Coach added that the team spoke about finding another level in case they found themselves in a precarious situation in the Bronze Medal match, “One of the things we spoke about before the match was that there was no doubt that we were going to get into trouble in a game like the Bronze Medal match, so we spoke about finding another level when things go bad in the game. We dug deep, tried to play fast, aggressive and attacking hockey and it paid off today. The other thing that we have been saying is that you have to dare to lose to be able to win and so you have to take some risks out there and be aggressive, and we did that today.”

Indian Men’s Hockey Team Forward Simranjeet Singh, who found the back of the net twice against Germany, said that the goals belong to the entire team’s effort.

“I tried to give my best in all the matches that I played in this Olympics. There are 11 players on the field and the goal can go to any one of us. Every player makes a contribution to every goal that we score. I just executed the finishing touches today. The goals belong to the entire team’s effort,” said the Forward.

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