Indian women hockey team created history on Monday (August 2) at the Tokyo Olympics, when they entered the Olympics semifinals for the first time in their history. The Rani Rampal-led Indian team defeated world No. 2 Australia 1-0 in the quarterfinal clash thanks to Gurjit Kaur’s 22nd-minute strike. India’s best result was a fourth place finish in a round-robin competition with six teams in the 1980 Olympic Games.
A day after the Indian men’s team entered the Olympic semifinals following a 49-year gap, the world no. 9 women’s side also entered the history books with a phenomenally gritty performance.
Coming into the match, the odds were totally against India as in world no.2 Australia, a mighty unbeaten opponent, awaited them in the last four round.But the Indians, determined to prove a point, produced a strong and brave performance to eke out the narrow win over the Hockeyroos. Drag-flicker Gurjit Kaur rose to the occasion when it mattered and converted India’s lone penalty corner in the 22nd minute to surprise the Australians.
India’s best performance in the Olympics came way back in the 1980 Moscow Games where they finished fourth out of six teams. In that edition of the Games, women’s hockey made its debut in the Olympics and the sport was played in a round-robin format with top two teams qualifying for the final. The Rani Rampal-led side will play Argentina in the semifinal on Wednesday (August 4).
Here in Tokyo, their campaign has been a story of resilience. After losing their first three matches against Netherlands, Germany and defending champions Great Britain, the Indian women made a brilliant comeback, defeating higher-ranked Ireland 1-0 and overpowering South Africa 4-3 to keep themselves in the hunt. India’s place in the last eight round was secured after Great Britain defeated Ireland 2-0 in the last Pool A match.