New Delhi | Jagran Sports Desk: Indian Men’s Hockey team made it to the semi-finals of Tokyo Olympics by defeating Great Britain 3-1 on Sunday. Last India had made it to the Top 4 in Olympics, it was in Moscow 1980 games, where amid a mass boycott of Olympics due to Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, India finished on top of podium to clinch the Gold medal.

According to Hockey great Vasudevan Baskaran, who captained India’s way to the top of podium in Moscow games, Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw’s motivation played a key role in pushing Indian Hockey players to pull off their best. Field Marshal Manekshaw was the chief of All India Council of Sports in those years.

"The field marshal came in person to watch the team train and he spoke to the players. He was the one who made me the captain, and he said it was not because of my seniority, but looking at the future of Indian hockey," Baskaran was quoted as saying by rediff.com.

“His confidence-oozing talk remained with me all through the Olympic Games. He had said, 'You look tough and you have a fire in your belly. Pass this on to your teammates. They are young and can play with speed. Play well and you will finish on the podium.',” Vasudevan Baskaran said in an official post by Hockey India prior to the scheduled Tokyo Olympics last year which were postponed till July 2021 due to COVID-19 pandemic.

“Sam Manekshaw gave us a pep talk, saying you need to play well and give your best. He had an aura around him, so his presence was inspiring. At least half the team was very young, Merwyn (Fernandis), (Mohammed) Shahid, Ravinder (Pal Singh), me and a few others,” MM Somaya, who played his first Olympics in 1980 told rediff.com.

"It was a good pep talk and it did boost our morale; it was an inspiring speech,” Somaya adds.

Indian Hockey team will next meet the current World Champion Belgium in the semi-finals on August 3.

Posted By: Mukul Sharma