The Indian hockey team ended a 41-year-old drought on Wednesday morning as they clinched a nerve-wracking 5-4 win against Germany to bag the bronze medal at the ongoing Tokyo Olympics. The Indian goalie PR Sreejesh, who enjoyed a superb campaign in Japan, produced a last-gasp save to ensure that his side didn’t return empty handed from the showpiece event.
India at one stage were trailing 1-3 against Germany, but they produced a remarkable comeback to first go 5-3 up, before the opposition netted the final goal of the match, making the scoreline 5-4.
In an exclusive interaction with WION‘s sports editor Digvijay Singh Deo, hours after completing the historic feat, Sreejesh along with skipper Manpreet Singh shared the team’s emotions and the thought process during and after the contest.
Here are the excerpts from the interview:
In a state like Kerala, where hockey isn’t very popular, what does this achievment mean?
Sreejesh (who hails from Kerala): “This will now initiate the development of hockey in my state.”
What was the atmosphere like ten minutes after you and your boys won the bronze medal?
Manpreet: “It was outstanding when the whistle blew and we didn’t knew what to do. Everyone was so happy, we were clicking pictures, Sreejesh was sitting at the post and he deserves this. Sreejesh has worked so hard and finally he got what he deserves.”
“So many players were crying, the coach was also crying and was pretending to stay strong.”
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How did it feel when people used to point fingers at the team and question the intensity when the side were not able to finish at the podium in previous instances?
Sreejesh: “In 2012 London Olympics and I along with Manpreet faced it. Whereever we we used to go we used to sit like this (heads pointing downwards). No one said okay you participated there, everyone was laughing at us, even during functions. I still feel it and then in 2016 we qualified for the quarterfinals, that was a great achievment but we still missed to advance to semis or the finals.”
“All the participating countires in Tokyo 2020 were good, but this time we worked really hard and had the confidence that we can achieve it in Tokyo. The first match against Australia, we went down (lost 1-7) but we bounced back and played really well. One more struggle in the semifinal we lost (against Belgium 5-2). But that’s the team spirit, we didn’t took much time to bounce back.”
“The team was focusing on their task, even against Germany, we were down and but still the bonding, the confidence, the trust, helped us bounce back.”
“This is the answer to everyone’s question, who asked us question in 2012, this is the answer. Just wait, do the things, and it will certainly come.”
After unable to win a medal in 41 years, what does this achievement mean?
Manpreet: “We didn’t win a medal in long time, so this will be good for the upcoming teams that they’ll also want to win a medal in the Olympics and they will work hard. They can make history, win silver or gold medal.”
(THIS STORY HAS NOT BEEN EDITED BY INDIA07 TEAM AND IS AUTO-GENERATED FROM A SYNDICATED FEED.)