India defeats Germany to win bronze in men’s hockey

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A more than four-decade-long wait finally bore fruition. India last won an Olympic hockey medal — a gold — at the 1980 Games in Moscow and after 41 years of fading hope and enduring angst, Manpreet Singh’s men turned a corner. On a pulsating Thursday in the Tokyo Games, India edged past Germany 5-4 to secure bronze through the third-place play-off.

It was a moment equally invested with the frenzied thrills of the present and the warm tug of nostalgia. Hockey, India’s national game, was once a sure-fire Olympic medal prospect and it showed in the trophy cabinet that has eight golds and one silver, besides three bronzes, including the latest addition.

Trailing 1-3

India found its goalscorers in Rupinder Pal Singh, Hardik Singh, Harmanpreet Singh and Simranjeet Singh, with the last-named striking twice. Yet at one point, India was trailing 1-3 before finding a second wind and surging ahead. Germany was relentless but India did not budge and in goalkeeper P.R. Sreejesh, it had an indomitable wall that thwarted most rival advances. The way the team played also reflected the hard yards and strategy that coach Graham Reid infused into his wards.

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If hockey offered unbridled joy, there was a silver to be savoured too as wrestler Ravi Kumar Dahiya emerged second-best to Russian Zaur Uguev in the freestyle 57 kg final bout.

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