Triple Olympian and Asian Games gold medallist, N. Mukesh Kumar, said India's hockey bronze medal at the Tokyo Olympics will give the game a fillip in the country.
“This is a great day for Indian hockey. Hats off to the boys for the remarkable fighting spirit they have shown right through the Games,” Mukesh told Sportstar . The Indian men's team beat Germany 5-4 in the bronze medal match for its first hockey medal at the Games since 1980.
“This Indian team is a truly special one, and today’s bronze can well be the beginning of a new era of Indian hockey itself,” he added.
“I would say the loss to Australia was one of those things which the hockey team generally needs in the early phases of such a major event to get a wake-up call. For such defeats teach you harsh lessons, and the best part is this team showed great spirit to come back so strongly,” he said. “I still believe the loss to Belgium was not totally unexpected, for they are the world champions,” he added.
“It [The win vs Germany] is a complete team effort though... the defence in the final phases of the game is still a matter of concern,” Mukesh said.
“As I said before the Tokyo Games, goalkeeper P.R. Sreejesh is the standout performer. But, still, credit goes to the coach Graham Reid for the wonderful way in which he opted for the rolling substitutions,” the former India captain said.
“I believe Reid was successful in blending the Australian style with traditional Indian hockey. We need to build on this huge win and have long-term plans.
“Now it is time to bring in professionalism to encourage sponsorships in a big way as it happens in cricket. We need a national league on the lines of IPL. I am sure after this performance, the sponsors will be willing to chip in,” Mukesh said.