Mumbai, Aug 5 (IANS) The resilence the team had developed over the last 15 months as they stayed together in Bangalore during the pandemic, the coachs insistence on ‘team-first’ mentality and focus on fitness of the players were the key factors in the Indian men’s hockey team winning the bronze medal in the Tokyo Olympics and ending a 41-year medal drought.
India defeated Germany 5-4 on Thursday, coming back from a two-goal deficit to win the match and bag the bronze medal. India had last won a gold medal in 1980 Moscow Olympics.
Coach Graham Reid said that in the first huddle they had after losing the semifinal against Belgium he again reminded the players of the team-first mentality and asked them to put the defeat behind them and take the next match as a new challenge.
“In the last 15 months that we stayed together in Bangalore helped us become a close unit. It was during this time that we worked on our fitness and that helped us a lot (in Tokyo) as the boys could manage to come back strongly after they landed in trouble in some of the matches,” said Reid from Tokyo during a virtual press conference organised by Hockey India on Thursday.
The coach’s pep talk during the half-time break in the match against Germany when the team came back from 1-3 down to emerge 5-4 winner, was a key element in India’s win, and though Graham Reid said he did usually don’t remember the things that he says during the breaks.
“As a coach, we sometimes think some things that we feel very good about before the break. After the game, I would ask them what did I say,” the coach laughed off the question to reveal what he says to the team during such breaks.
He later revealed that one of the things that he told the players at the half-time break on Thursday was to keep calm. “We talk a lot of things, plan a lot of things but in the end, it’s for the players to execute that. I am happy that these boys managed to do that. This team has a lot of potentials to develop into the best in the World,” said Reid.
Vice-captain Harmanpreet Singh said the difficult times the players had, before the match against Germany, thought that it was the best moment for them to end the drought. “We discussed that if we lose this moment, we will lose a big chance. All the players played well and I am happy for everyone, for the players and the fans,” said Harmanpreet.