The Indian women’s hockey team made history on Monday by reaching the Olympic Games semifinals for the first time, defeating three-time champions Australia by a single goal in Tokyo.
A day after the Indian men’s team returned to the Olympic semifinals after a 49-year absence, the world no. 9 women’s team made history with a phenomenally gritty performance.
The odds were stacked against India going into the match, as world no.2 Australia, a formidable unbeaten opponent, awaited them in the final four rounds.
But, determined to make a point, the Indians produced a strong and brave performance to eke out a narrow victory over the Hockeyroos.
Drag-flicker Gurjit Kaur rose to the occasion in the 22nd minute, converting India’s lone penalty corner to surprise the Australians.
India’s best Olympic performance came in the 1980 Moscow Games, when they finished fourth out of six teams.
Women’s hockey made its Olympic debut in that edition of the Games, and the sport was played in a round-robin format, with the top two teams qualifying for the final.
On Wednesday, Rani Rampal’s team will face Argentina in the semifinals.