Savita Punia, the goalkeeper of the Indian women’s hockey team, is an important cog in the core group. The team’s vice-captain has put in some outstanding feat by foiling a spate of attacks on the Indian team at the recently concluded Tokyo 2021 Olympics.
Savita Punia stood like a rock between the goal post and the opponent and won awards with breathtaking saves and reflexes. Although the Indian women’s hockey team narrowly lost a medal, the team’s resilience to fighting back when pressed against a wall won the hearts of many. Punia was the focus.
Her exploits on the goal post meant Savita didn’t notice Punia’s hard work. The Indian vice-captain was nominated for the FIH women’s goalkeeper of the year alongside the Argentine Belen Succi and the British Maddie Hinch.
The Indian women’s hockey team got off to a terrible start to the Olympics, losing their first three games to fall in the dirt. However, victories over Ireland and South Africa helped the team advance to the quarter-finals, where the Indian team beat Australia in a spirited performance.
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But the defeat against Argentina in the semi-finals and then against Great Britain in the play-off for bronze broke the hearts of the fans and the brave players. Although the medal remained elusive, the Indian women’s hockey team returned enriched with experience.
Savita Punia said the feeling of accomplishing something great had finally arrived. The goalkeeper said the trip to Tokyo will be remembered for a long time. She added:
“Now that I’ve finally had time to reflect on our performance, I feel like we’ve achieved something extraordinary and the best has been our way to this point in the last five years. We’ve endured a lot as a team and as a team. ” Individuals we have had tremendous opportunities to reach this level. I think we will always cherish this trip. “
Savita Punia said after beating Australia 1-0 in the quarter-finals, the thought of winning a medal was very realistic. She added:
“Even though we lost very narrowly to Argentina in the semi-finals, we wanted to give our all against Great Britain and really wanted that medal around our necks and after beating Australia we really believed it could be done.”
The heartbroken Savita Punia – a sight every Indian hockey fan will remember
The sight of Savita Punia bursting into heartbroken tears after India’s defeat by Great Britain will be remembered by Indian hockey fans. The team’s analytical coach, Janneke Schopman, tried her best to comfort the goalkeeper, but Savita Punia was not comforted.
From 12th place five years ago in Rio de Janeiro to being a serious medal contender in Tokyo, the Indian women’s hockey team has come a long way. Savita Punia believes the team is now well positioned to break benchmarks and expectations. Savita Punia stated:
“I think expectations will grow. People have seen that we can play in top tournaments and I think we can live up to those expectations. We now have experience and the team is ready to perform better. The Rio experience made us believe in ourselves and we worked really hard to get to that level. Now we’re going to work on taking it to the next level. “
Savita Punia is ready to face the next challenges
With only three years to go until the 2024 Olympics in Paris, Savita Punia said the team’s priority will be to regroup, analyze and get going for the upcoming season. With the Commonwealth Games and Asian Games up next, 2022 is a jam-packed calendar for Indian ice hockey.
“I can’t wait to get back to the camp in SAI, Bengaluru. It has become a place of comfort for us. After the Olympics there were many celebrations and now it’s time to get back to reality. Next.” Year is crucial with Asian Games and our priority will be to win the gold medal so that we automatically qualify for the Olympic Games in Paris and with that goal we will resume training. “
Also read: What’s next for Indian ice hockey after the Tokyo Olympics?