~ The Savita-led Indian team went down fighting against Australia in a closely-contested Semifinal match at the CWG; will now fight for the Bronze against New Zealand ~
Birmingham, 06 August, 2022: There was joy, despair and a lot of silent sobs. A year ago, on this day, the Indian Women’s Hockey team had pulled off the unexpected, finishing a memorable fourth, sealing their spot in the upper echelons of Indian sport, at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
The Indian Women’s Hockey Team registered their best ever finish at the Summer Olympics, having qualified for the Bronze medal playoff, where they lost narrowly 3-4, against Great Britain, who cut short their celebrations to put an arm around the Indians’ shoulders. After all, India had punched well beyond their weight category, leaving everyone to pick up their jaws.
Remembering the storied run at the Summer Olympics, current Captain Savita said, “One of the reasons why we were able to go as far as we did was our fitness levels and self-belief. We started a little slowly, but the coaching staff were always motivating us to keep trying hard every day.”
In Tokyo, India began their campaign with a 1-5 defeat against Netherlands, before the Germans won by 0-2 in the second game. Great Britain won 1-4 before the switch flicked for the Indian team. Up next were Ireland, who were seen off with a 1-0 scoreline and then came South Africa, who were swatted away by a 4-3 margin, which helped secure a berth in the knockouts.
“Our performances and momentum picked up as the tournament progressed and the win against Ireland helped our confidence a lot, as did the South Africa game. It was a big moment for us because it showed us that sticking to our task and working together as an unit was going to produce results. It gave us a big boost before the Australia game,” Savita said.
Up next, in the first game of the knockout stages, the Quarter-Final, was the very strong Australian side. But Indian Women were ready to roll. India fought hard as the world watched on. Gurjit broke through in the second quarter with a rasping shot as India converted the PC, and then thwarted Australian advances. The Aussies threw the kitchen sink at India’s defences, but the Women in Blue, held forte, stunned Australia, and one and all, securing their first ever Semi-Final berth at the Olympic Games. “We can never forget the win against Australia. It was one of the biggest moments in our careers. We still get goosebumps when we think of the win,” Savita said.
Unfortunately, India couldn’t pull off a similar success against the Australian side at the ongoing Birmingham 2022 CWG as the team lost 3-0 in a tough shootout. Both teams ended the regulation time in a 1-1 stalemate but fell short in the shootout. “Having beaten Australia on a big stage like the Olympics, we were quite confident of a good show against them here in Birmingham. But this loss will sting us a little more because we came so close. Now, we have to recover soon enough and refocus on the Bronze medal match against New Zealand,” stated Savita.
Chasing a medal at the Commonwealth Games since the team’s successful campaign in 2002, the Indian Women’s Team will recall their inspirational-outing in the Olympics ahead of their all-important Bronze medal game. “We have come a long way, and now is really the time to take our performance to the next level. We want a medal here and we know we have worked for it in all earnestness,” asserted the Captain.
Savita also expressed her gratitude towards Hockey India as she said, “The professional and structured approach by Hockey India has been one of the major factors for all our recent successes, they have helped us progress a lot as players and as a squad. I hope they continue to support us in the same way because that will surely help bring more laurels for India. We are all very thankful for the undying support of the Hon’ble Chief Minister of Odisha Shri Naveen Patnaik, who have played such a crucial role for Hockey in India.”
On Sunday, 7th August, Indian Women’s Hockey Team will take on New Zealand at 1330 hrs IST.
The matches will be telecast live on Sony Ten 3, Sony Six, and on Sony LIV OTT platform.