Indian men’s hockey team dedicates Olympic bronze medal to Covid-19 frontline medics and ‘warriors’

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Indian players celebrate after winning the men's bronze medal match.
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Anne-Christine Poujoulat / AFP / Getty Images

Indian players celebrate after winning the men’s bronze medal match.



CNN

Amid the joy of the Indian men’s hockey team ending its 41-year drought for Olympic medals, its players took time to reflect on the impact Covid-19 has had on the country over the course of the last year.

The team – the most successful in Olympic history with eight gold medals – won the bronze medal with a 5-4 victory over Germany at Oi Hockey Stadium in Tokyo on Thursday.

“The last 15 months have been so difficult for us too, because we were in Bangalore, we spent too much time there away from the family,” said Indian men’s hockey captain Manpreet Singh.

Harmanpreet Singh celebrates his third goal with his teammates in the men's bronze medal game.

Alexander Hassenstein / Getty Images

Harmanpreet Singh celebrates his third goal with his teammates in the men’s bronze medal game.

“We would like to dedicate this medal to the doctors who have saved the lives of so many people in India and around the world. So we would like to dedicate this medal to these warriors, ”Singh added.

According to the Johns Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering, there have been nearly 32 million positive cases of Covid-19 in India, as well as 426,290 deaths.

The Indian men’s hockey team hadn’t won a medal since Moscow in 1980, when it won its last of its gold medals.

“Today we made 1.3 billion Indians proud by finishing on the podium,” said Singh.

Goalkeeper PR Sreejesh called the bronze medal a “rebirth”.

“It’s been 41 years. In the 80s, we won the last medal and then nothing. Today, when we won it, it gives a boost and gives young people energy to learn hockey, to play this game. It’s a great game, ”said Sreejesh.

India lost just two matches in Tokyo against Australia and Belgium, and the two meet in the final.

Team India have won four medals at Tokyo 2020 in total and aim to surpass their best Olympic total of six medals in London 2012.

Goalkeeper PR Sreejesh called the bronze medal a “rebirth”.

Despite being the second most populous country in the world, a lack of funding and proper infrastructure has prevented India from becoming an Olympic power.

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India's Vivek Sagar Prasad and Germany's Tobias Constantin Hauke ​​face off for possession in the men's hockey bronze medal game.

John Minchillo / AP

India’s Vivek Sagar Prasad and Germany’s Tobias Constantin Hauke ​​face off for possession in the men’s hockey bronze medal game.

At the same time, many athletes choose to play cricket, a non-Olympic sport that enjoys much greater fanfare in the subcontinent.

However, the number of Indian Olympians has steadily increased in recent years as the government invests more in sports and athletics.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted to congratulate the team on their victory.

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