A total of 11 medals, including eight gold, one silver, and two bronze in the Olympics, tell the story of Indian hockey's dominance and glorious history in this grand event of the Games. But, it is also true that the Indian hockey team has never won an Olympic medal after winning gold at the 1980 Moscow Olympics. However, hockey legends believe that the Indian team led by Manpreet Singh can end India's Olympic medal drought in hockey that has been going on for four decades. The Indian men's hockey team's first match is against New Zealand on Saturday and the result of this match will largely prepare the way for the Indian hockey team's journey ahead.
Tokyo is hosting the Olympics for the second time and Harbinder Singh, who played in that team when the Olympics were last held there in 1964, is now 78 years old. At present, he is also a member of the selection committee of Hockey India. When he asked about India's chances in Tokyo, he was lost in nostalgia. "Every sportsperson's dream is to become an Olympian and then win medals. For me, both these dreams were fulfilled in the first Olympics itself. In the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo, I was the youngest member of the team and we won the gold medal by defeating Pakistan. Harbinder, one of the best center forwards in the world, said about India's prospects this time, "We have picked the best team from our side. We have this chance to repeat the history of 1964. Our team has so much potential that it should not come empty-handed. We cannot underestimate any team, but we have faith in our team.
Ajit Pal Singh, captain of the Indian hockey team that won gold in the 1975 World Cup and a member of the team that won two Olympic bronze medals, said, “Our team has improved over the years. In the Olympics, we have to play match-by-match well and move forward. Our team can win medals, but our first target should be to reach the semi-finals because one bad match can stop us from reaching the semi-finals, and without reaching the semi-finals, a medal cannot be won. After that, we should try for a medal.
Ashok Dhyan Chand, a 1975 World Cup winner and a member of the Indian team that won a bronze medal at the 1972 Munich Olympics, said, "Our team has the potential to win medals. Our team has been playing well for the last two years and they have overcome their weakness of losing at the last minute. There has been stability in our team, the defense has become stronger and the firepower has increased. We have to stop scoring goals against us and capitalize on scoring opportunities because without a goal there is no winning.
Schedule of Indian men's hockey team in Tokyo Olympics-
July 24, New Zealand
25 July, Australia
July 27, Spain
29 July, Argentina
July 30, Japan