India’s underdog field hockey team exemplifies the country’s Olympic potential.

TOKYO — The women in white leaned heavily on their hockey sticks as the final whistle sounded, tiredness and dejection doubled them over. The Indian miracle machine has reached the end of its life cycle.

The women in black embraced and threw down their sticks all around them. Argentina has advanced to the Olympic field hockey semifinals after defeating India 2-1 and ending their opponents’ three-match winning streak. After losing three games in a row to start the tournament, India turned things around by defeating Ireland and Japan to qualify for the tournament, then shocking undefeated Australia in the quarterfinals. By reaching the medal round, a team led by women from rural poverty, some of whom had been discouraged from participating in sports, had achieved its highest point in history.

Then they took a 1-0 lead over Argentina, sparking dreams of yet another upset and a trip to the gold medal game. However, India’s bright start was short-lived, with a deflected shot off a penalty corner in the third quarter giving India the winning margin. They must swiftly refocus after wiping away tears and perspiration as they exited the sweltering Oi Hockey Stadium.

After the loss, coach Sjoerd Marijne, a Dutch expatriate, commented, “Our players had only watched the Olympic semifinals on TV.” “They’re in it now,” says the narrator. The hockey team has overachieved in an underachieving Olympic nation, reaching a bronze-medal match against Great Britain on Friday. “Today and throughout the games, our women’s hockey team played with tenacity and exhibited amazing skill,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted. I’m proud of my teammates. Best of luck in the upcoming game and future endeavors. ” Modi also contacted Marijne to encourage him, according to Marijne.

This is the pinnacle of an Indian woman’s accomplishments in Japan. Three athletes have won medals in three separate sports, accounting for all of India’s medals to date in badminton, boxing, and wrestling (a male wrestler will compete in a gold-medal match Thursday). Prior to Tokyo, India’s female athletes had only won five Olympic medals.

In terms of medal count, India has traditionally punched well below its per-capita weight. It is the world’s second-most populated country, with a population of 1.37 billion people. Despite this, it has only won 28 medals in all before these Olympics, a pitiful amount. (That sum would be higher if cricket were an Olympic event.)

India’s men’s field hockey team, the original world force in the sport, won 11 of those medals. From 1928 to 1956, India won gold in every Olympic Games and ten consecutive Summer Games in hockey. The men’s team will also compete in the bronze-medal match this week, which is more of an expectation, albeit one that is a little out of date. The last time they won a medal was in 1980.

The women’s team is excellent. “They’ve taken it to the next level,” says Webdunia reporter Abhijit Deshmukh, who is covering the team. “In India, most women are still expected to do housework and be excellent wives and daughters. This team’s accomplishments today are thrilling. I believe it would alter the image of Indian women. “

That is the stated goal of the team. Team captain Rani Rampal stated, “We want to inspire the little ladies in India.” They aim to make it easier for the next generation of female hockey players.


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