Despite missing out on a medal at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, the Indian women's hockey team has indeed achieved something more, according to chief coach Sjoerd Marijne.
After registering three successive defeats to the Netherlands (1-5), Germany (0-2) and Great Britain (1-4) in the group stage, the Indian team found their footing with victories against Ireland (1-0) and South Africa (4-3) to book a place in the quarter-finals.
A miraculous win against a formidable opponent in Australia sent the Indian eves into the Olympics semi-final for the first time. As against the Aussies, India put up a bold fight against Argentina in the semi-final, but couldn't manage to get past them as they went down 2-1.
However, all was not lost as the Indian women's hockey team played their hearts out in the bronze medal match against Great Britain on Friday. But yet again, fate had its way and a close 3-4 loss to Rio 2016 champions ended their hopes of a podium finish.
Sjoerd Marijne praised the spirit of the Indian women’s hockey team, while claiming they have made the nation proud despite not winning a medal.
"We showed a fighting spirit in the Bronze Medal match against Great Britain, but it wasn't enough. I told the team that we didn't win a medal, but we achieved something bigger than a medal and that's inspiring an entire nation," Marijne said.
The Dutch coach also ironed out how their Olympics performance serves as a stepping stone to become a top team in the sport.
"We finished among the top four in this competition and every team is now taking us seriously. I think that is a big step. We have always looked to stay in the moment and be busy with our task,” Marijne said.
“We have tried to develop this mindset for a long time. We wanted to avoid thinking about winning or losing because that makes you nervous and we wanted to stay away from that," he added.
The chief coach also made a candid mention of how his stern talk after the 1-4 loss to Britain in the group stage changed the mindset of the team.
"After the Pool match against Great Britain, I was extremely angry with the team. I told the team that if you go down then show that you really tried and then go down,” Marijne said.
“I told the team that they will have to do better and I think the team's mindset transformed after that match. I and Janneke had a lot of individual meetings with the girls and they found the key for the next matches themselves. I think that was an important part of the tournament for us," the Dutch coach added.
Sjoerd Marijne also commended that the belief with which the Indian women's hockey team played at Tokyo 2020. "We always had the belief that we can win a medal and we were really close. The girls believing in themselves makes me really proud. I think that was one of the biggest steps we made.
“Every girl in the team has her own story and every story is amazing. Let's hope that a lot of women in India have seen this Indian team's performance and are inspired by the team to start playing hockey or any other sport." Marijne added.
Featured photo: Hockey India