Emotional former players salute Olympic bronze medallists
Emotions ran high and tears of joy rolled down the eyes of yesteryear stars of Indian hockey
NEW DELHI: Emotions ran high and tears of joy rolled down the eyes of yesteryear stars of Indian hockey, who on Thursday described the men's team's historic bronze medal winning feat at the Olympics as "new dawn" for the game in the country.
"I am extremely happy for Indian hockey as a whole because at one time people said that hockey is in ICU, hockey is dead. But now we have witnessed Indian hockey's resurgence," India's only World Cup-winning skipper Ajitpal Singh.
"It is a very pleasant moment for lovers of hockey. Hockey has again given happiness, I had tears in my eyes honestly. We have reached where we once belonged. It's a remarkable achievement."
Congratulating the team, Ashok Kumar Dhyanchand, former India hockey player and son of Major Dhyan Chand said: "This match will be seen as an example in world hockey, I have not seen a match like this for a long time. Coaching centres across the world will make everyone watch this game, the quality of the match was top-notch. After 41 years, we have won a medal. The government showed support towards every sport, Prime Minister Narendra Modi also rallied around the team," Ashok told.
Zafar Iqbal, a key member of India's last Olympic gold medal winning team in 1980 Moscow Games, said he had his heart in his mouth in the final few minutes of the match when Germany were attacking hard in search of the equaliser.
"My heart was beating very heavily when Germany were pressing hard in the final few minutes. (But) History has been made. We have crossed that jinx. It's a miracle. It's to going to have a big impact on the game. It will revive the sport in country. It's a new beginning, a new dawn," he said.
Olympian and former coach of the national side, Joaquim Carvalho had tears of joy in his eyes and said it's a red-letter day for Indian hockey. "Very important for India hockey because we have not got any victories in hockey for long and this win will definitely give a big boost to the promotion and development of the game in the country," he said.
Former India coach Harendra Singh broke down after watching the historic win.
He said India's investment in junior programmes paid rich dividends. "I salute (chief coach) Graham Reid. I always said invest in youngsters and you will get the medal and he invested in youngsters and today we are on the podium." Agencies