IMAGE: India’s keeeper Sreejesh Parattu Raveendran poses for pictures as he celebrates winning the bronze medal match on Thursday. Photograph: Bernadett Szabo/Reuters
India won the bronze medal in hockey after a thrilling 5-4 victory over Germany at the Tokyo Games on Thursday, giving the country its first Olympic medal in the sport in more than forty years.
India forward Simranjeet Singh stood out from the other players by scoring two goals for India, including the winning goal of the match.
“It’s a dream come true,” Simranjeet said.
“We’ve made 1.3 billion Indians proud by finishing on the podium.”
The goal-rich match was not an easy one for the eight-time Olympic champions. Germany took an early lead through a second-minute goal by Timur Oruz, and posed a threat to India in the first quarter.
After Simranjeet equalised with a backhand shot for India, Germany kept their cool, scoring two goals to take a 3-1 lead in the second quarter.
IMAGE: Simranjeet celebrates after scoring the first goal with Sumit against Germany. He scored twice in the bronze medal play-off on Thursday. Photograph: Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images
But India pulled level late in that quarter thanks to goals by Hardik Singh and Harmanpreet Singh, making it 3-3 at the halftime break.
“We’re very angry at ourselves that we got India back into the game,” Germany’s head coach Kais al Saadi said.
“They’re a great team. You can’t give away opportunities like that to a fantastic team like that.”
India then took a 5-3 lead after Rupinder Pal Singh notched in a penalty stroke and Simranjeet scored the winning goal of the match not long into the second half.
Germany came back a goal and tried to force the equaliser, even taking out its goalkeeper to bring in an extra field player late in the game.
But the Germans could not get another ball past India goalie Sreejesh Parattu Raveendran, who was a star of the match with nine saves.
The bronze marked India’s first Olympic hockey medal since they last claimed the top prize at the 1980 Moscow Games, when none of the players on the current squad were born yet.
India will battle Britain for bronze in the women’s hockey tournament on Friday.