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Thursday, August 5, 2021

Belgium wins Gold ~ India wins Bronze - a Medal after 41 years in Olympics Hockey !!

He is no gladiator – he has become a household name – many would be having him as their screen savers, while some as their ‘password’ !!  - Vincent Vanasch the Belgian goalkeeper who plays  for German club Rot-Weiss Köln and the Belgium national team.  Billions of bilious blue blistering barnacles! Belgium’s favourite cultural export, the nervous Captain Haddock of the Tintin series, could never have survived the tension of the men’s Olympic hockey final.  The Red Lions, the best team in the world since the Rio Olympics, added a gold medal to their World Cup, European and FIH Pro League titles after a dramatic 1-1 draw with Australia was resolved by an even more dramatic penalty shootout.  

Australia will have to wait another day to break their Olympic record of 17 gold medals, after the Kookaburras agonisingly went down to Belgium in a penalty shootout. On Sunday, Andrew Charter saved three goals against the Netherlands to progress past the quarter-final. Four days later, the penalty shootout ended the Kookaburras’ hopes of winning their second gold medal in men’s hockey, 17 years after winning in Athens. Australia’s defeat was a slow, painful one.

Belgium defeated Australia in a shootout to win gold in men’s field hockey. The score was tied 1-all at the end of regulation time before Belgium won the shootout 3-2. Alexander Hendrickx scored the penalty stroke that put Belgium ahead in the shootout and Vincent Vanasch got the clinching save.

India won bronze earlier in the day with a 5-4 victory over Germany. It was India’s first field hockey medal since 1980.        This was India’s third bronze and 12th hockey medal overall at the Games.  India’s 41-year-long wait for an Olympic medal in hockey came to an end today  when the men’s hockey team beat Germany 5-4 to take the bronze medal at the Tokyo Olympics. This was India’s first podium finish at the Games since their gold-medal-winning run in 1980 Moscow Olympics.

India won their first medal in Olympic hockey by beating Netherlands 3-0 in the finals of the 1928 Amsterdam Olympics. This was  India’s first gold medal ever at the Olympics.  India successfully defended their title four years later in Los Angeles in 1932  and bagged consecutive gold medals in the Olympics.  In this tourney,  India defeated USA 24-1, which continues to be biggest margin of victory in the history Olympics hockey.  The Dhyan Chand-led Indian side completed a hat-trick of golds in Olympics by beating Germany 8-1 – the biggest margin in Olympics hockey finals – in front of their home crowd in Berlin in 1936. India continued their domination in the Games despite the 1940 and 1944 getting cancelled due to the second World War. This was India’s first medal in Olympics after independence and what made it sweeter was the fact that they had beaten Great Britain 4-0 in the finals.  At Melbourne in 1956, the victory was sweeter as India beat Pakistan in the finals. In 1960, India lost to Paki at Rome and got Silver.  In 1964, India got it back defeating Pakis  at Tokyo but at Mexico in 1968, India failed to make to finals and settled with a Bronze and in got Bronze atgain at Munich in 1972 – in 1980 V Bhaskaran led team got Gold and now after 41 years, India  beat Germany 5-4 to bag their 12th medal in the Olympics.

Today at Tokyo, a  video referral saved Jacob Whetton once, after the video umpire found a foul from goal-keeper Vincent Vanasch after the Australian struck the post. Given a reprieve, Whetton was denied again as Belgium won the penalty shootout 3-2. Vanasch roared, Australia’s Kookaburras slumped to the turf as others rallied around Whetton. For Belgium, their victory came five years after they lost the gold medal match to Argentina in Rio. Since then, they had claimed almost everything world hockey has to offer and came into the match ranked behind Australia as second in the world. As Belgium’s players roared with triumph, New Zealand coach Shane McLoud took himself to the dug out and buried his head in his hands and cried. Twenty metres away Australia’s players struggled to contain their emotions.

Some of those who watched could have some Qs on the Shoot out – in Football (as also in Hockey) earlier, we have seen a single fierce stroke by the striker in having to defeat the lone Goalie for a goal – that is the sudden death ‘shoot out’ – today it was not so !!

To determine matches that end in a tie, a penalty stroke competition was used. Similar to a penalty shoot-out in association football, teams alternately take penalty strokes, subject to the normal rules, to determine the winner. Each team is represented by any five players chosen from the team sheet submitted prior to the match  and the order in which they participate is also chosen. Players from each team take alternate strokes in a best-of-five competition until a team has won or 10 strokes have been completed. The goal used is selected by the umpires and the team to take the first penalty stroke is determined by a coin toss. In the result of a tie after 10 strokes, the same players will continue to take strokes in a sudden death format until a winner is established.  

Not any longer – the rules have been tweaked, not recently !  .. .. similar to a penalty shot in ice hockey, the attacker gets a chance to run with the ball in a one-on-one situation against the goalkeeper. The attacker starts on the 23-metre line with the ball and the goalkeeper starts on the goal line. When the whistle is blown, both can move and the attacker has 8 seconds to score a goal.  Unlike a penalty stroke or penalty corner there are no restrictions on strokes the attacker may use to score and a goal is scored in the usual way. If the attacker commits an offence, the ball travels outside the field of play or 8 seconds elapse before the ball crosses the line a goal is not awarded. If the goalkeeper unintentionally fouls the attacker then the penalty shoot-out is re-taken; in the event the foul was intentional a penalty stroke is awarded.

Just like its predecessor, the penalty shoot-out uses five players chosen from each team against a goalkeeper. It is a best-of-five competition and, if scores are tied at the end of this, it progresses to sudden-death with the same players  until a winner is established.  

Interesting ! – so at Tokyo 2020 – it is Belgium, Australia and India [Gold, Silver & Bronze] – kudos Team India.  Here is the full list of heroes – Team India : Here are the names of all the players who were a part of India's squad at the Tokyo Olympics: Head Coach: Graham Reid; Dilpreet Singh; Rupinder Pal Singh; Surender Kumar; Manpreet Singh (Captain); Hardik Singh; Gurjant Singh; Mandeep Singh;  Simranjeet Singh; Mandeep Singh; Lalit Kumar Upadhyay;’ Harmanpreet Singh; PR Sreejesh (Goalkeeper); Sumit Kumar; Nilakanta Sharma; Shamsher Singh; Varun Kumar; Birendra Lakra; Amit Rohidas &  Vivek Sagar Prasad

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
5th Aug 2021. 

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