Tokyo Olympics Hockey: Indian women reach maiden semis, create history
(Courtesy : Hockey India)
Gurjit Kaur scored the match-winner for the ladies.
The Indian women’s hockey team defeated Australia to make their way into the semi-finals at the Tokyo Olympics in Japan. The ladies beat all odds to come away as winners by a solitary goal from Gurjit Kaur. The drag flicker powered her way into the scoring books with India’s only penalty corner of the game.
The result was a upset, as the Australian women were regarded favourites to finish among medals at Tokyo Olympics hockey. They had won all of their previous games, finishing on top of the standings in Pool B. However, India delivered one of their most iconic performances to spoil the Aussie party.
A performance to remember
Furthermore, the Indian women’s hockey team has created history by reaching the semi-finals of the Olympics for the first time-ever. They reached the quarterfinals by the skin of their teeth after winning the last two Pool matches against Ireland and South Africa at the Tokyo Olympics hockey. Gurjit Kaur scored the winning goal in the 22nd minute to hand the lead to India.
India’s charge was led by Savita Punia, the goalkeeper who kept the Australian attackers at bay. She saved attempt after attempt from the Aussies and did not let them score from any of their seven penalty corners. The Indians kept their heads together and defended their slender lead with immense togetherness and resilience. The Australian ladies were left frustrated and bereft of ideas at the end of the game at the Tokyo Olympics hockey.
Post-match comments from Chief Coach Sjoerd Marijne:
"After we qualified for the Quarters, I told the team about the importance of being in the moment and not thinking about what-ifs and that is very difficult for an athlete because there are many things that are constantly playing in your mind, things like what if we win, what if we don't win, what if I don't stop the ball, so what I did is showed the team a movie and the film is about staying in the moment and I think that made a big difference in this match against Australia.We didn't have a lot of practice matches before the Olympics so we kept telling the girls to improve with every match. We focussed on every individual improving her performance and if the personal performances are better then the performance of the team will be better. We knew that we had to learn from every match that we play since we didn't have a lot of games leading into the competition" said Marijne.
"After we lost 1-5 to the Netherlands, it looked as if everything was shattered, it wasn't. We only needed to make a few small improvements.Today, I told the girls to just play freely. The pressure is on the other team and that's really important to know. The Quarter-Final matches are really difficult for the teams who are higher ranked. And I wanted the players to be proud of themselves today, regardless of the result. And I told the players that at the end of the match, they shouldn't feel their legs after running so much on the pitch. We defended well today. The defensive structure during Penalty Corners was very good.This match also proves dreams can come true. If you start believing and you keep believing and you keep working hard, things can happen. You have to do the work to fulfill your dreams and that's what we did today" added Marijne.
This result has definitely shocked the world. India’s female hockey players have given the country more reasons to rejoice after the men did so yesterday. The men’s hockey team also made their way into the semi-finals after 41 years, following a win against Great Britain by a 3-1 scoreline. Will this be an iconic campaign at the Tokyo Olympics, where both women’s and men’s hockey teams come away with an Olympic medal?
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