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India Create History, Finish Fourth in Women's Hockey at Tokyo Olympics

As India fought back from 0-2 down with goals from Gurjit Kaur, GK Savita Punia played a big role in keeping GB out.

Updated
Hockey
4 min read
<div class="paragraphs"><p>Tokyo: Indian players react after losing their women's field hockey bronze medal match against Great Britain, at the 2020 Summer Olympics, in Tokyo, Friday, Aug. 6, 2021. India lost the match 3-4. </p></div>
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History had already been made, but would the cherry on the cake be the first Olympic medal for the Indian women’s hockey team?

At the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, the Rani Rampal led side fought with great heart, gave Great Britain, the Gold medallists from the 2016 Rio Games, quite a few scares but were unable to seal the deal, ending up on the wrong side of a 4-3 result in the Bronze Medal match at the Oi Stadium.

A contest which will forever be etched in the minds of Indian hockey fans went right down to the wire but India, who defeated Australia in the QF and lost to Argentina in the SF, fell just short.

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<div class="paragraphs"><p>Gurjit Kaur scores for India.</p></div>

Gurjit Kaur scores for India.

Image: PTI

The much fancied Great Britain started the contest the better of the two sides and were all over the Indian defence, which was pegged well back into their half early on. The Indian defence were lucky to have not conceded in the first 15 minutes as the Great Britain forwards attacked in waves. For India, Savita was the big figure in the first phase, making more than few big saves to keep themselves in the game.

The contest decided to turn up the intensity in the second quarter with GB taking the early lead when Elena Sian Rayer forced it on with a deflection from India’s Deep Grace Ekka. The dominant GB continued to pile on the pressure, extending the lead with Sarah Robertson finishing off in style past Savita, who could only look on.

<div class="paragraphs"><p>India celebrate a goal against GB in the Bronze medal playoff&nbsp;</p></div>

India celebrate a goal against GB in the Bronze medal playoff 

Image: Twitter

History had already been made, but would the cherry on the cake be the first Olympic medal for the Indian women’s hockey team?

At the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, the Rani Rampal led side fought with great heart, gave Great Britain, the Gold medallists from the 2016 Rio Games, quite a few scares but were unable to seal the deal, ending up on the wrong side of a 4-3 result in the Bronze Medal match at the Oi Stadium.

A contest which will forever be etched in the minds of Indian hockey fans went right down to the wire but India, who defeated Australia in the QF and lost to Argentina in the SF, fell just short.And just when it seemed things were not going India’s way, Gurjit Kaur stepped up and rifled home two penalty corners with immense power in the space of two minutes to leave GB shocked. A more confident India took control of proceedings and Sharmila Devi almost round the GB keeper to make it 3-2.

While Sharmila could not find the back of the net on that occasion, Vandana Katariya was on hand and a rasping shot from close range beat the GB keeper, putting India in the lead as they headed into the half-time break, with the famous Queen song We Will Rock You playing out on the public address system at the Oi Stadium in Tokyo.

<div class="paragraphs"><p>Indian women's team finished 4th at the Tokyo Olympics.&nbsp;</p></div>

Indian women's team finished 4th at the Tokyo Olympics. 

Image: PTI 

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As expected, GB came out firing on all cylinders in the third quarter, but India too were sharper having found their mojo just before half-time. GB, who were looking for an equaliser, were consistently looking to put India under pressure, and it paid off soon enough when Hollie Pearne-Webb found a way past Savita.

Salima Tete and Sharmila responded with lung-busting runs of their owns with the score at 3-3 but were unable to cause much damage to the GB defence. At the other end though, Savita continued to thwart GB, standing tall in the face some forceful attacks.

Early in the fourth quarter, with scores at 3-3, India lost Udita for 5 minutes to a yellow card and GB made the numerical advantage count, harassing the Indian defence, earning a PC which Grace Balsdon converted, as the team in red edged ahead.

India threw the kitchen sink in the final 12 minutes as they looked for yet another equaliser but just did not have the wherewithal on the day.

India, who were making their third appearance, at the Games made their best ever finish at the Olympic stage. India had finished fourth in the 1980 Moscow games but did not play a medal match as the format was a league stage one.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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