Back in 2008, Indian hockey was going through one of its darkest phases. The men’s team lost 2-0 to Great Britain in the World Hockey qualifying tournament in Santiago. The loss meant that India failed to qualify for the Beijing Olympics. It was the first instance when the eight-time gold medallist couldn’t make it to the mega event after their debut way back in 1928.
The women’s team, on the other hand, wasn’t even in contention for an Olympics’ berth. After India men’s team won the gold medal in the 1980 Olympics, things had gone downhill to a significant extent. 14 years down the line, the scenario isn’t quite the same. Both the men’s and women’s hockey teams have punched above their weight and have made the semis.
On Sunday, August 1, Manpreet Singh and Co qualified for their first semi-final in 49 years, beating Great Britain 3-1. On Monday, August 2, the women’s team rose like a phoenix from the ashes and qualified for their maiden semi-final in the history of the Olympics. Rani Rampal’s troops, against the odds, beat hot favourites Australia, the table-toppers in Group B, 1-0.
Gurjit scores in the 22nd minute
Australia went into the quarter-final after beating Spain, Argentina, New Zealand, China and Japan with relative ease. But in the must-win game, they couldn’t break India’s resilience. Drag-flicker Gurjit Kaur converted India’s only penalty corner in the 22nd minute to give her team the much-needed lead. In the third and fourth quarters, India played with caution.
Coming into the game, India needed to pull a rabbit out of the hat as the Aussies were the World No.2. Instead of crumbling under pressure, Rampal’s women showed nerves of steel. In the semi-final on Wednesday, August 4, India are scheduled to face Belgium. The hockey teams’ performances come after shuttler PV Sindhu gave India their second medal in Tokyo Olympics.
In the meantime, the cricket fraternity congratulated the India women’s hockey team for making it to the semi-final. From Ishant Sharma, Wasim Jaffer, RP Singh and many others, a number of prominent names in the cricket world, lauded the Women in Blue for their performance.
Here’s how the cricketers reacted to India’s victory
All hail to Indian Women’s Hockey team! 🙌🏼🇮🇳#IndianWomenHockey #olympic2021 pic.twitter.com/PT7Bc4XHnZ
— Tushar Deshpnde (@TusharD_96) August 2, 2021
What a wonderful victory !! 👏
The #Ind women’s #Hockey team make their way into the semi’s for the first time ever.
An unbelievable and powerful match played by the women of our country, we are proud of you! 💪
Way to go!! Jai Hind!🇮🇳 #Tokyo2020 #IndianHockey #Olympics pic.twitter.com/Cd2wTK3w6s
— Ishant Sharma (@ImIshant) August 2, 2021
Chak de india 🇮🇳 #Hockey #TokyoOlympics2020
— Mandeep Singh (@mandeeps12) August 2, 2021
The sheer dominance shown over Australian team, is the class, hard work and determination of @TheHockeyIndia women team to out class 2 time olympic champions and reaching maidan semi finals at the #Olympics2020 ##RuknaNahiHai #leadership #hockeyindia #WomenPower #ChakDeIndia pic.twitter.com/7qIjPw0y3m
— Siddharth Kaul (@iamsidkaul) August 2, 2021
Well done to our girls they did their best and congratulations to India, good luck 👍 https://t.co/BddvYlofME
— David Warner (@davidwarner31) August 2, 2021
जननी जन्मभूमिश्च स्वर्गदपि गरीयसी।
The pride our girls have given us in the greatest sporting event and filled us with so much happiness is unbelievable.
After Mirabai, Lovlina, Sindhu ,now the #Hockey team has made us so proud.
Looking forward to Kamalpreet in dicus throw final pic.twitter.com/vHUCe5fvRd
— Venkatesh Prasad (@venkateshprasad) August 2, 2021
The unbelievable effort from our women’s hockey team, never been tensed so much till the last quarter of the game. So so proud of the girls. Congratulations 🎉 #INDvsAUS #hockeyindia pic.twitter.com/1o5llvojmB
— MANOJ TIWARY (@tiwarymanoj) August 2, 2021
Itni khushi shayad kisi jeet par mehsoos huyi hogi!
Absolute Wow moment. First ever Olympics hockey semi-finals for our girls. Filled with pride.
Chak De India #Hockey pic.twitter.com/c9I5KZFaZ5
— Virender Sehwag (@virendersehwag) August 2, 2021
Our girls have created history.
Beaten #AUS in the quarter-final match of women’s #hockey by 1-0 to seal their spot in SEMI-FINAL for the first time ever! Best wishes for the semis. #Tokyo2020 pic.twitter.com/iZj3H4GPs8
— VVS Laxman (@VVSLaxman281) August 2, 2021
We all have seen the movie but this is reality! Real Chak De girls! Wow. So proud of our team. क्वार्टर फाइनल में ऑस्ट्रेलिया को 1-0 से हराया, पहली बार ओलंपिक के सेमीफाइनल में #hockeyindia #Hockey
— R P Singh रुद्र प्रताप सिंह (@rpsingh) August 2, 2021
🎵चुटकी कोई काटो न है हम तो होश में
क़दमों को थामो यह है उड़ते जोश में
बादल पे पाँव है, या छूटा गाँव है
अब तो भई चल पड़ी अपनी यह नाव है🎵
History in Tokyo!! Congratulations Indian women’s team!! So so proud🇮🇳👏🏻 #GoForGold #Teamindia #Tokyo2020 #Olympics pic.twitter.com/flzwzF2iPh
— Wasim Jaffer (@WasimJaffer14) August 2, 2021
What a game!! Way to go ladies..✊🏾Absolute superstars 🔥#TeamIndia https://t.co/uG5EmQnLtY
— Shikha Pandey (@shikhashauny) August 2, 2021
This is huge for 🇮🇳!! #Hockey #Tokyo2020
— Lisa Sthalekar (@sthalekar93) August 2, 2021
Seems appropriate to tweet this right now. Chak de! India #Hockey #Tokyo2020 pic.twitter.com/Z1g0OPpqsw
— Lisa Sthalekar (@sthalekar93) August 2, 2021