NEW DELHI: A delightful finish to a dream campaign at the Tokyo Olympics 2020 saw Indian hockey scripting history as both men's and women's teams achieved their highest ever FIH world rankings.
The Indian men's hockey team, which ended a 41-year medal drought by clinching the Bronze medal in Tokyo, rose to 3rd in the International Hockey Federation World Rankings, behind Belgium and Australia, respectively. Whereas, the Indian women's hockey team, moved up to the 8th position according to the latest FIH world rankings.
Before this feat, the Manpreet Singh-led side's career-high ranking was No.4, which they achieved in March 2020 on the back of their scintillating performances in the first three rounds of the second edition of FIH Hockey Pro League 2020. On the other hand, the Indian women's team's highest-ever world ranking was 9th, which they accomplished by producing their best finish (quarter finals) at the Vitality Hockey Women’s World Cup London 2018 in four decades. Having reached till quarter finals of the World Cup, the Indian eves became the top-ranked Asian team and went on to clinch the Silver medal at Jakarta Palembang 2018 Asian Games.
Both the teams achieved their highest ranking following their stunning performances at the Tokyo Olympics 2020. Manpreet and Co. finished second in Pool A winning four out of five group phase matches and defeated Great Britain 3-1 in Quarter Final before losing 5-2 against Belgium in their historic Semi Final. However, they staged a remarkable comeback to grab a 5-4 win over Germany to clinch a historic Bronze medal at Olympic Games and as result climbed up to their best-ever world ranking.
Whereas, the Indian Eves, who faced three losses in the initial matches, went on to pull off arguably the biggest upset as they beat world No.3 Australian side in what was their first ever quarter final of the Olympics. Rani & Co. lost both semi final and the Bronze medal play-off match against Argentina and Great Britain, respectively. Hence, finishing fourth at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics led India women's hockey team to climb up to the 8th in the world rankings.
Having achieved their highest-ever world rankings, the Indian men's hockey team captain Manpreet expressed, "It's the reward of all the hard work and dedication towards the game we love, towards the game which has given us everything. This ranking and the Olympic medal after 41 years mark the rise of Indian Hockey, and I think this couldn't have happened without the support of the Ministry of Youth Affairs & Sports, Sports Authority of India, Odisha government and Hockey India. There is no looking back now, we have set the benchmark for ourselves and would like to grow from here."
Men's team chief coach Graham Reid stated, "I must admit, I feel privileged to have played a part in the rise of Indian Hockey. It's a great feeling that we won the historic Bronze medal as well as achieving the highest ranking on the back of our solid performance in the Olympics. We played like a unit, with the right kind of attitude, and I think that has helped the team achieve this feat. Also, Hockey India, Sports Authority of India and all the stakeholders involved with the Indian Hockey has played a huge part in bringing back the team where it truly belongs."
Indian women's hockey team skipper Rani said, "We were very close to finishing on the Podium, and it is hurting the team that we didn't. However, looking at the bright side, we have made remarkable progress in recent years, and I am really proud of it. Finishing in the top four at Olympics, and climbing to the 8th position in world rankings, is a very big thing for us, and this has boosted our confidence, it will certainly help us grow going forward. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the Odisha government, Hockey India and Sports Authority of India for the continuous support and encouragement."
Indian women's team chief coach Sjoerd Marijne expressed, "It's the result of all the hard work that girls have put in over the past few years. Achieving 8th rank in the world ranking and finishing among the top four at Olympics, is a big step for Indian women's hockey, and I think every team will definitely take us seriously. The athletes have that desire to learn and improve each and every day, and I feel this is one of the biggest reasons why we could finish among the top four. "
While congratulating both Indian men's and women's hockey teams for achieving their highest-ever world rankings, Hockey India president Gyanendro Ningombam said, "The Indian men's and women's Hockey teams have performed exceptionally well in the Tokyo Olympics and we are delighted to see their performances being reflected on the FIH World Rankings as well. I would like to congratulate both the Men's and Women's teams for achieving their highest rankings. The players have been determined to get better with every match and I am sure that they'll keep rising to greater heights. We are all very proud of both the team's performance in Tokyo and we are happy that Hockey India has been able to achieve the goals we had set for ourselves when Hockey India was formed in 2009."