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Tokyo success was a big boost to Indian Hockey: Thakur

The wait we had for 41 years came to an end when the men's team won a medal at the Games. The women's team won against formidable Australia and they performed remarkably well.

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New Delhi: Union Minister for Youth Affairs & Sports on Friday while speaking at the Hockey India 5th Annual Awards 2022 identified the good showing by both the Men’s and Women’s teams at Tokyo Olympics as a big shot in the arm for Hockey in India.

“Tokyo Olympics was not an easy tournament, it was just at a time when Covid pandemic was waning, training for the tournament was a big challenge but in Bengaluru whether it be the Men’s team or the Women’s team, camps were organised for both of them and meticulous preparations were done. The wait we had for 41 years came to an end when the men’s team won a medal at the Games. The women’s team won against formidable Australia and they performed remarkably well. Hockey was that one game for which the entire country became euphoric they celebrated the success by bursting crackers as if it was Diwali.”

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Thakur identified a positive growth trajectory for Hockey in the country in recent times “In Hockey today we see that Punjab and Haryana domination does not persist now Jharkhand, MP, Odisha, North Esatern states all have a huge representation in the team. Important tournaments are being organised across various parts of India, recently Odisha very successfully hosted the World Cup. So on the one hand big tournaments are being hosted, our players are performing well, on the other we see our junior teams too are performing very well, in Malaysia they had an excellent win(Sultan Johor Cup).”

He shed light on the increase in financing of sports under the NDA regime “Besides boarding, lodging and travelling expenses being borne by the government inside and outside India, the Government is supporting economically weaker players by giving them an assistance of Rs 6 lakhs annually. I am thankful of PM Modi for what he did, in 2014 the Sports budget was Rs 964 crore now it stands at Rs 3397 cr.”

He explained how PM Modi has established direct communication with the players and extended moral support to them

“Our PM was never shy in directly contacting the players, for example when he reached out and consoled the women’s hockey team after the Tokyo Olympics. Prior to the contingent’s departure for the tournament he impressed upon them the mentality that they should play without feeling any pressure. I remember when the team arrived back and we assembled for tea at the PM’s residence, I don’t know whether there a single world leader who would know so much in debt about the player’s, their family background, what food they liked as our PM did. I remember him telling our Badminton team after the Olympics, ‘Don’t get disheartened, you will win the next time’ and sure enough our Badminton team won the Thomas Cup for the first time.”

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