New Delhi [India], August 5 (ANI): Former India hockey skipper Viren Rasquinha on Thursday said that a turning point might have come in Indian hockey after the men's side won a bronze medal in the ongoing Tokyo Olympics.
It took 41 years, but the dream of every Indian was finally realised on Thursday as the men's hockey team beat Germany 5-4 to win the bronze medal here at the Oi Hockey Stadium -- North Pitch.
"I think this is a massive achievement for Indian hockey, this is something we have been waiting for the last 41 years. Generations of players have tried their best and not succeeded in getting to the Olympics finals since Moscow 1980 so for this men's hockey team to go out there and win bronze, is an incredible achievement. It is a dream of every Indian hockey player to represent your country at the Olympics and to win a medal, I think this can be a turning point for Indian Hockey," Rasquinha told ANI.
"For sure, I think any medal at this level of hockey is a great achievement. Even today, we had to play a strong team like Germany to win the medal. Full credit to the character to the team even after being 1-3 down. Graham Reid and the entire coaching staff have done a good job, senior players like Manpreet Singh and PR Sreejesh have also had their role," he added.
When asked about the impact of Graham Reid, Rasquinha said: "I think for me, three big changes I have seen. In terms of selection, I think he did a great job of going for form and fitness and he did not count much for reputation. Number two, fitness levels of the team have been world-class, number three, good use of the rolling substitution. We never let the pace and intensity drop for any of the games. Team spirit and sense of belonging Graham Reid has created, it is great."
"The team has been the best performer throughout, it is not fair to take names of individual performers. Everyone's role is very important," he added.
The India women's side would also be in action on Friday as they would lock horns against Great Britain in the bronze medal match and the match would be telecasted on SONY SIX, SONY TEN 2 channels. If the Rani Rampal-led side manages to win a medal, it would be a first for the Indian women's team at the Olympics in hockey.
"What a performance by the Indian women's hockey team, no one would have predicted that they would have been in the top four. These girls have so much belief, the fitness and strength level of the girls has been upped by heaps as compared to the Rio Olympics. When the draw was announced, it was always going to be tough in the first three games. You require a lot of character to win those close matches, a superb win against Australia. These are outstanding performances. They gave Argentina a run for their money," said Rasquinha. (ANI)