The hockey gold again
The 17th Asian Games at Incheon, with India’s tally of 57 medals against the 2010 haul of 65, has dampened a number of spirits. The haul was modest, with the nation standing 8th in the medal tally list. Still, one victory that made India proud was grabbing the gold for her ‘national game’, hockey, after beating the traditional rival, Pakistan.
Some of you were not even born when India beat Pakistan in the Asian Games in 1966, or perhaps even when she won the 1998 Asian Games gold. But on October 2, 2014, everyone watched the revival of Indian hockey from the ashes of 16 gold-drought years with shining eyes and open mouths that quickly transformed into yells. So at last, India beat Pakistan at the Asian Games hockey finals to win the gold at Incheon. The win ensures India a “direct ticket” to the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio.
The ecstatic crowds hugged the facts again and again—India did it, beating Pakistan 4-2 to clinch the final. Although she had got the gold in the 1966 and 1998 Asian Games, Pakistan had won the title eight times. Now, at last, India has hit the jackpot again.
P.R Sreejesh, from Kochi, was the hero goalie who saved the match for the team, while another Jharkhand talent got some good scores too. Though Pakistan started off well, the Indian team took over in the second quarter. So the opposing team played well, but the Indian team conquered it quickly, and prevented it from taking the lead again. Pakistan played a traditional game, while India played in modern style.
India may still not be of world class, on the league of Australia, Germany and Holland. Still, as Terry Walsh, Indian coach said: “What a big moment for the sport in the country.” It ended a 16-year “gold medal drought,” and put down the Pakistan champions in a penalty shoot after the two were pitched against each other in 1-1, making it to the 2016 Rio Olympics. Indeed a special moment for Indian hockey!
Captain Sardar Singh described the win as one of the biggest moments of his life. “This is one of the biggest moments for me. We came here to win the Asian Games and directly qualify for the Rio Olympics and we have achieved our aim,” he said.