Manpreet: 'We feel we have won a significant Olympic medal'

Manpreet recalls the bronze-medal journey in Tokyo; Rani showers praise on Savita.

India men's hockey team captain Manpreet Singh in New Delhi on Tuesday.   -  The Hindu

The Indian men’s hockey team gave an Olympic medal to the nation, while the women’s squad missed it by a whisker. But both felt the “love and respect” of the fans when they landed home from the Tokyo Games.

“In my career spanning 12 to 13 years, I have never felt like this. Even after we lost, people are giving us so much love and respect. Now we definitely feel that we have done something good,” said Rani Rampal, captain of the women’s team.

Though the Sjoerd Marijne-coached side had lost the bronze medal match to Great Britain, it won hearts for a remarkable show. “We fought hard, but it was not our day,” said Rani.

The skipper of the men’s squad, Manpreet Singh, said he could feel the fans’ joy after his side won the country’s first hockey Olympic medal after the gold in Moscow in 1980.

READ: Of camaraderie, grandeur and stargazing - Debutants share their memories of Tokyo Olympics

“When we landed here, there was so much love and respect for us. We do feel that we have won a significant Olympic medal,” said Manpreet.

He said that the boys were able to bounce back from the 1-7 defeat to Australia in its second league match as they had faith in their abilities and felt that they could win a medal.

“It was a bad loss against Australia. We told ourselves that we should regain confidence. We could beat any team as we had done it in the past. The players were determined not to let go this opportunity,” recalled Manpreet.

Wall of India

Even as she appreciated the whole team, Rani gave a lot of credit to goalkeeper Savita Punia for taking the team to the bronze medal playoff, calling her “the Wall of India.”

India has had to endure heartbreaks in the final minutes during important matches over the last few years, but Manpreet said the current outfit was keen to stay sharp till the final whistle.

“In the last 15 minutes of the bronze playoff, we reminded ourselves about our aim. We told ourselves that if we put all our energy in those 15 minutes, we can be happy all our life,” revealed Manpreet.

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