Like a true hockey lover in India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday (August 4) let it be known that he is pretty clued in on the men team’s onward march to bronze in Tokyo – a medal they had waited for more than four decades.
Overcome by emotion after leading India to its first Olympic hockey medal in 41 years, skipper Manpreet Singh dedicated the historic triumph to the country’s doctors and healthcare workers, who have worked tirelessly during the COVID pandemic.
Manpreet Singh on Thursday revealed the conversation with the PM after his team’s semi-final loss against Belgium. The 2-5 loss ended India’s dream of a gold at the Games.
Manpreet later said the PM was able to get the players to shake off their disappointment by telling them to stay positive for the play-off game.
Also read: When bronze glows like gold: India’s hockey team wins medal after 41 years
“We want to thank the PM. He called (after the semi-final defeat) and spoke to the entire team and asked us to remain positive and focus on the next match. He said the entire country is with you,” said Manpreet after India’s historic bronze medal win against Germany on Thursday (August 5).
“He called up today also and said the entire country is very proud of you,” he added. The PM told Manpreet Singh that he has scripted history and remarked that after the win, Manpreet’s voice is loud and clear, whereas it was slightly muted the other day (when India lost to Belgium), media reports said.
The 29-year-old from Jalandhar was “speechless” following the epoch-making 5-4 victory over Germany that gave India their 12th hockey medal in the Olympics.
The last time India stood on the podium was at the 1980 Moscow Games where they had won gold. The country has eight gold medals in all the Games.
Also read: ‘Proud moment:’ Goalie Sreejesh’s family celebrates historic win
“I don’t know what to say right now, it was fantastic. The effort, the game, we were 3-1 down. I think we deserve this medal. We have worked so hard, the last 15 months were difficult for us also. We were in Bengaluru and some of us got COVID also,” media reports quoted Manpreet as saying. “We would like to dedicate this medal to doctors and frontline health workers who have saved so many lives in India,” he said.
Germany put to test every bit of the Indian hockey team. Manpreet acknowledged that. “It was difficult; they got a penalty corner in the last six seconds. We thought we have got to save it with our lives. It is really hard. I am speechless right now,” said the skipper.