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HomeSportsIndia hopes for gold medal in Paris Olympics in hockey

India hopes for gold medal in Paris Olympics in hockey

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India ended a 41-year wait for an Olympic men’s hockey medal by winning bronze in Tokyo three years ago, raising hopes for a potential ninth gold in Paris.

India’s glory days in hockey were when matches were played on grass fields, often following soccer games, and neighboring Pakistan also excelled.

In the modern era of fast, flat astroturf, Germany has dominated with three Olympic titles. Other top contenders include the Netherlands, Britain, Australia, Argentina, and most recently, Belgium, who won gold in Tokyo.

The trend is similar at the World Cup, where Pakistan initially dominated and Germany secured their third title in 2023.

India boasts Hardik Singh, the current World Player of the Year in hockey, with midfielder Singh winning the award after his captain Manpreet Singh held the title for two consecutive years.

 

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Manpreet, known as one of the best drag flickers globally, recently mentioned that the Tokyo bronze has reignited belief in the Indian hockey team. His teammate Lalit Kumar Upadhyay emphasized their clear mission for the Paris Olympics.

“We are looking forward to changing the colour of our medal from bronze to gold,” forward Upadhyay told Reuters.

“Right now hockey is totally changed and anyone can beat anyone depending on the day. It depends on how many chances you create.”

The crowded top 10 of the International Hockey Federation (FIH) rankings backs Upadhyay’s analysis with the Dutch, England (Britain), Belgium, Australia, Germany and Argentina all bunched ahead of India.

India, who have five debutants and eight Singhs in their 16-man squad, will need to finish in the top four of a pool also featuring reigning champions Belgium, Australia, Argentina, New Zealand and Ireland to get into the quarter-finals.

“We are working on our fitness and defensive structure because we all have the mantra ‘defend for the win’,” Upadhyay added.

 

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“India is especially known for our counterattack, so we are looking to defend first. And if you have a good defense then definitely we can definitely have a good attack.”

The word hockey derives from the French word hocquet, meaning ‘shepherds crook’, and the July 27 to Aug. 9 tournaments will take place in Colombes at what was the main stadium for the 1924 Paris Olympics.

Women’s hockey had an inauspicious start at the Moscow Olympics in 1980 when all five teams invited to join the Soviet hosts boycotted the Games and stand-ins Zimbabwe won their only title.

The dominant Dutch women triumphed at the first attempt in 1984 and have won three of the last four gold medals, including in Tokyo when the Oranje beat Argentina 3-1 in the final.

The Netherlands have won nine of 15 World Cups and currently top the rankings ahead of Argentina and Germany.

Their 26-game winning streak since a loss to Australia’s Hockeyroos in June 2023 was snapped in Utrecht on June 24, however, when Belgium beat them 2-1 at the FIH Hockey Pro League to claim their first victory over their neighbours in a top competition.

“I think certainly in preparation for the Olympics, it’s nice to come here and win the game, so really cool,” said Belgium’s Helene Brasseur, who was named Player of the Match.

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