On 18 June, 2021 when the 33-man probables squad of the Indian hockey team for the Tokyo Olympics was cut down to a final 16, 24-year-old Simranjeet Singh found his name left out of the list.
'I was disappointed but when I put myself in coach's shoes and thought of how tough a decision it was for him, then I realised whatever he had done for the betterment of the team was right,' Simranjeet Singh told The Quint in an interview after returning to the country with a bronze medal around his neck.
Because as luck would have it, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced a new rule in July – keeping in mind any additions teams would need incase a player was found to be COVID positive – and allowed each team to travel with two extra reserve players. Indian picked Simran and Varun Kumar.
The rest is Indian Olympics folklore.
Simranjeet made his Olympics debut in the team's third game, against Spain, and ended up scoring a goal. More importantly, he played every match thereafter and scored a brace in the all-important bronze medal match against Germany.
'I was inspired by my father. When I wasn't selected, my father told me one thing - whatever God does, he does for our wellbeing. He said for God to have helped me reach even the camp, I should be grateful for that and he will continue to bless.