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Friday, August 12, 2016

India draws 2:2 with Canada at Rio Olympics ~ qualifies for knockout after 32 years

I always admire MS Dhoni for being cool in tense moments ~ but not this man.  Watching the match between India and Canada at Rio, we were tense, wanting India to win.  Sunil over ran, crashed on to the hoarding and was in visible pain. Camera was on our coach Roelant Oltmans who appeared nonchalant. The Dutch man had earlier coached Dutch men’s team and women’s team.

Web search led to a India today news item that  Roelant Oltmans was seen shopping for hockey sticks and shoes at an Adidas store in Barra, hours after the team's 3-2 victory over Ireland in their opening Pool B match on Saturday. It stated that Oltmans wanted to do it quietly without letting anyone in on his shopping spree but India Today caught up with him and asked the coach a few questions.  Oltmans had ordered the stuff in advance and because adidas was unable to deliver it to the village, he had to go and pick up all of it. He came by public transport and did not let anyone know.  India today quotes him as stating : "Yes I had come to pick up some hockey sticks and shoes for the players. I do this to ensure my players have the best equipment and can do their best always. Some of the players also have contracts now and that helps them.

Is that any act to be appreciated or ? – would some buy the basic equipments in the mid of a tournament !!

Now just 2 minutes to go – both teams locked 2-2, even the coach is emotive now. Ramandeep had a chance almost ..  India have played some quality hockey in the previous four games and have won two and lost the remaining. Both the losses were very close ones and a draw was always in India’s pocket.  Today Akashdeep puts us on top.  Few minutes later, Tucker broke back.  Then came the 2nd goal - Raghunath with a brilliant ball into the scoring area, finds Ramandeep who drills it in to give India the lead.  The last quarter was very exciting but in the end it was only a draw !
photo credit : Indian Express

Though not a win, the  long wait of Indian hockey team to reach the knockout stages of Olympics Games finally ended after they made it to the quarter-finals of Rio 2016 Olympics despite a 2-1 loss against the Netherlands on Thursday. India progressed to quarters on the basis of the results of other matches in their pool. A 4-4 draw between Argentina and Germany meant that India no team can replace them in the top four standings of the points table in Pool B. In India’s group Nederlands  top the table with 10 points but with a better goal difference than Germany, a team which also has 10 points and are second position. Finishing third will mean India face the team which finishes second in the other group, most likely Spain or Belgium. Both these teams have been in good form.

India had last made it to the knockout stages in 1980 Moscow Olympics. This was also the Games in which it won last of their eight gold medals in hockey. India have won a record eight gold medals at the Olympics.

Could read that way back in  1932 Olympics,   the Indian team put in a fine performance though the field was reduced to just three contenders, United States and Japan being the other two. India notched a record 24-1 win against the hosts with Roop Singh scoring 10 and Dhyan Chand eight, and drubbed Japan 11-1 to win their second Olympic gold medal.

Hockey had debuted much earlier.  At the 1908 Summer Olympics, a field hockey tournament was contested for the first time. Six teams entered from three states. The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland was represented by a team from each of the four Home Nations: England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Germany sent a championship club team, while France sent a team composed of players from three clubs.  England won the gold medal, Ireland the silver, and Scotland and Wales the bronze medals.

The 1928 Summer Olympics in 1928 in Amsterdam, Netherlands, was golden for India as India took its first ever gold in the sport of field hockey, beginning a streak of six consecutive gold medals in the sport.

Everytime we read that, we feel happy ~ but, when we get to relive those golden moments ! .. we keep hoping.  Whether India will finish at 3rd or 4th depends on the match between Argentina and Ireland.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

12th Aug 2016 @ 10.30 pm.

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