Historic double for Indian hockey in Hangzhou
India’s men’s and women’s hockey teams achieved a historic double by winning the gold medals at the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou, China, on Monday. With this feat, they also secured their berths for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, joining hosts France, Australia and the Netherlands as the fourth qualifiers in each section.
The Indian men’s team, ranked third in the world, defeated defending champions Japan 3-1 in a thrilling final, while the women’s team, ranked ninth, edged past China 2-1 in a nail-biting encounter. This was the first time that both the Indian teams won the Asian Games gold medals in the same edition.
The Indian men’s team, led by captain Manpreet Singh, dominated the final against Japan, who had held them to a 1-1 draw in the group stage. India took the lead in the 17th minute through Harmanpreet Singh’s penalty corner conversion. Japan equalized in the 25th minute through Kenta Tanaka’s field goal. However, India restored their lead in the 39th minute through Dilpreet Singh’s strike and sealed the victory in the 54th minute through Lalit Upadhyay’s goal.
The Indian women’s team, led by captain Rani Rampal, faced a tough challenge from China, who had beaten them 3-2 in the group stage. India opened the scoring in the 12th minute through Gurjit Kaur’s penalty corner flick. China leveled the score in the 28th minute through Liang Meiyu’s field goal. The match remained tense until the 58th minute when Vandana Katariya scored the winner for India with a brilliant reverse hit.
A golden moment for Indian hockey
The Asian Games gold medals were a fitting reward for the Indian hockey teams, who had performed exceptionally well at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games two years ago. The men’s team had won a historic bronze medal, their first Olympic medal in four decades, while the women’s team had finished fourth, narrowly missing out on the bronze medal.
The Asian Games titles also marked a remarkable turnaround for both the teams, who had failed to win gold at the previous edition in Jakarta in 2018. The men’s team had settled for a bronze after losing to Malaysia in the semifinals, while the women’s team had finished second after losing to Japan in the final.
The Indian hockey teams have now established themselves as formidable forces in world hockey and will look forward to continuing their momentum at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games. The early qualification will also give them ample time to plan and prepare for the mega event.
A proud day for India
The Indian hockey teams’ achievements at the Asian Games were hailed by various dignitaries and celebrities from across the country. Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated both the teams on Twitter and said that they have made every Indian proud with their splendid performance. He also praised their coach Graham Reid and Sjoerd Marijne for their guidance and support.
Sports Minister Anurag Thakur also lauded both the teams and said that they have created history by winning gold medals at the Asian Games. He said that their success will inspire millions of youngsters to take up hockey and pursue their dreams.
Hockey legend Balbir Singh Sr., who was part of India’s three Olympic gold medal-winning teams in 1948, 1952 and 1956, also expressed his delight over both the teams’ victories. He said that he was very happy to see Indian hockey back on top and hoped that they will continue to shine at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.