Hockey: India men beat Germany to win bronze, first Olympic medal in 41 years
The Indian men’s hockey team mounted a fightback for the ages to beat Germany 5-4 in the bronze medal match at the Tokyo Olympics on Thursday, for their first hockey medal at the Games since 1980, when they won the last of their eight Olympic gold medals. Following the medals of Mirabai Chanu, PV Sindhu, Lovlina Borgohain and an assured medal for wrestler Ravi Kumar Dahiya, this will be India’s fifth medal at the Tokyo Games.
In all, it’s India’s third bronze and 12th medal at the Games, pulling them ahead of Germany as the country with the most medals in men’s hockey. Australia and Belgium will fight it out for gold later on Thursday.
India kept their calm after defensive errors had them trailing Germany 3-1 at one stage in the first half. Simranjeet Singh, restored to the squad in place of Lalit Upadhyay, scored two goals, while Hardik Singh, Harmanpreet Singh and Rupinder Pal Singh scored one apiece.
Germany were the quicker team off the blocks, making their intent clear with captain Florian Fuchs egging the team on to make one final push in the team huddle ahead of pushback. Their intensity found instant reward, as Timur Oruz found a stray ball, not cleared by a combination of Surender Kumar and Shamsher Singh right ahead of Sreejesh, and put Germany ahead in the second minute.
India responded well, earning their first penalty corner (PC) two minutes later, but Rupinder Pal Singh had his drag flick closed down by the first rusher. India were able to maintain the single-goal deficit thanks to Sreejesh in the first quarter, though, as he closed down angles to ensure Niklas Wellen and Mats Grambusch didn’t get clean shots on goal. India survived a barrage of PCs, four in succession, right at the end of the first quarter to keep the score at 1-0.
India found their equaliser two minutes into the second quarter, with Simranjeet halting a pass down the middle at the top of the circle, turning and shooting a rasping reverse hit past goalkeeper Alexander Stadler. With six minutes to go for half-time, the game exploded to life, helped initially by some defensive lapses from India.