The Indian men’s ice hockey team will rewrite a piece of history when they take on Great Britain in a historic quarter-final at the 2021 Olympic Games in Tokyo on Sunday evening.
The Indian men’s hockey team is the most successful team at the summer games with eight gold medals. The last time the Indian ice hockey team won a medal was at the 1980 Moscow edition.
A fifth place in the next edition – 1984 in Los Angeles – remains the second-best result for the team that had reached unprecedented heights decades ago.
In the recent past, the Indian men’s hockey team had hit new lows – from being unable to qualify for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing to 12th place at the 2012 Olympic Games in London and eighth place in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.
Read: Indian men’s hockey team achieves the highest world rankings of all time after success in the Olympic group stage
Cashbox: Tokyo Olympics 2021 schedule
Much expectations depended on the Indian ice hockey team when they left for the Olympic Games in Tokyo. The team had an extra year to hone their skills at the Sports Authority of India (SAI Center in Bengaluru).
Under the watchful eye of trainer Graham Reid, India left no stone unturned in preparing for the Tokyo Olympics.
The rise of the Indian men’s hockey team from a shaky start
India started well against New Zealand, beating them 3-2, but in the next game against Australia, Manpreet Singh and Co. looked listless and was beaten 1-7. Back on the drawing board, India bounced back in style, beating Spain (3-0), defending champions Argentina (3-1) and Japan (5-3) to make a strong statement ahead of the quarter-finals.
After the last group game against Japan, India also achieved its highest world ranking of 3 to date. The Indian ice hockey team took fourth place in the Olympic Games in Tokyo in 2021.
Graham Reid made sure the team grew together well and brought a sense of trust among the players – a trait that was evident in the group stage of the Olympics.
Also read: India vs. Great Britain Men’s Hockey Quarter Finals at the 2021 Olympics: Preview, Prediction, When and Where to Watch
Nation rallies behind the Indian hockey team
As India prepares for its biggest ever Tokyo Olympics game, Manpreet Singh & Co. has received support from all quarters, including social media.
Former skipper Virus Rasquinha rallied behind the Indian team and posted on Twitter:
“Very nervous and excited about the most important game in Indian ice hockey for 41 years. No Olympic SF reached since 1980 (sic). High time to change this statistic tonight in the QF versus GBR. Would love to see the whole nation watching and supporting our hockey team. Give him everything you have, guys! “
There were a lot of messages on Twitter wishing the team to embrace the killer and do their best.
While fans and critics wait with bated breath, India is hoping to do well and be on the right side of the road in a potentially historic hockey campaign for the country.
Also read: 2021 Olympics Ice Hockey Quarter Finals: How India Should Approach Great Britain Game