India has till date won 11 Olympic Medals in Hockey, which no other country has managed. They still hold the top rankings in the medals tally in Hockey in Olympic history. India’s last medal came in 1980 Moscow Games, when India won the Gold Medal. It will be 40 years since the last medal, when Tokyo 2020 starts.
The introduction of Astro Turf initiated India’s downward spiral in Hockey. Presently ranked 5th in the world, the present team looks the most promising to break the medal drought. The Indian men won the FIH qualifiers in Bhubaneswar, and will now face Russia for a place in the Olympics. Indian Women won their FIH qualifier at Hiroshima and will play USA for an Olympic qualification spot. Both the Men and Women will play their matches at Bhubaneswar on November 1st and 2nd. Two matches will be played and the aggregate of two will decide the winner.
Hockey as a sport has changed a lot, since India ruled the World in the sport. From 1928 to 1980, India won a medal in Hockey in every edition of Olympics, other than 1976 Montreal Games. The game is played in Astro Turf, instead of Grass Turf. There are rolling substitutions now, and it is played in 04 quarters. Earlier it was played in two halves of 35 minutes each, now it has 04 quarters of 15 minutes each.
Tokyo 2020 hopes
At present form, India will be feeling very assured of the qualification of the Men’s Team. They defeated the World No.2 side Belgium few days back, and pumped 6 goals to Spain. India still have one more match against Spain, and two more against Belgium in this tour. They will thereafter play in the Sultan of Johor Cup against the World’s best teams before facing Russia in the final Olympic qualifiers.
The Indian Women are playing a series of three matches against England in England. England are a strong team, and good results will boost their confidence before their qualification match with USA. USA are the 13th ranked team in the World and India are on the 9th spot in Women’s Hockey. The Indian fan will be hoping that Indian Women win both matches without any upsets.
Both the Olympic qualification matches involving India will be played in India. The home crowd support will be huge pillar of support for the Indian team.
The Men’s team for Tokyo 2020 Olympics is a definite medal prospect. They have recently defeated all the strong teams in the World, including World No.1, Australia. The glory which has eluded India for such a long period since 1980, may come back to her next year.