Former India hockey captain and defender Dilip Tirkey recently recalled some interesting stories from the 1996 and 2000 Olympic Games ahead of the Tokyo showpiece event.
With less than two weeks to go for the Tokyo Games, the Olympic fever is slowly engulfing the entire sporting world.
While the Indian athletes carry out their high-octane practice sessions, it’s time for the hockey fans to relive the memories from the triumphant Olympic campaigns in the past through Hockey India’s Flashback series.
Tirkey, who represented India in three Olympic campaigns — 1996, 2000 and 2004 — spoke about his excitement of playing in his first Olympics at the Atlanta Games in 1996.
“Every athlete has a dream of becoming an Olympian and I got a chance of playing in the Olympics for the first time in 1996. We had some big players in our team at that time such as our captain Pargat Singh Powar. I was very excited to play in the Olympics,” said Tirkey.
When asked about memories from the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Tirkey said that the 1-1 draw against Poland will always remain a big regret for him and the Indian team.
“We performed very well in the league stages of the 2000 Olympics. We played well against Argentina, Australia, and Spain and we needed to defeat Poland to qualify for the semi-finals, but we couldn’t do it,” said Tirkey.
“The match against Poland got so difficult for us and it ended in a 1-1 draw in the end. We were leading 1-0 after I scored in the 53rd minute but Poland managed to score in the last few moments of the match. If we had beaten Poland, then we could have qualified for semi-finals and after that anything could have happened. So that draw against Poland has remained as a sad memory for us,” he added.
The former India defender further spoke about his experience of just being at the Olympic Games.
“There were many exciting moments for us at the 1996 Olympics. Tennis star Leander Paes also made history in the Olympics by winning a Bronze medal. We got to see the US President Bill Clinton as well, who visited the Olympic Village. I went to watch the athletics and football events at the Olympics as well,” he said.
When asked about his expectations of the current Indian men’s hockey team, Tirkey said that he expects the national side to win an Olympic medal in Tokyo this year.
“I have great expectations from the current Indian men’s hockey team. I think there is a lot of quality in the side, and they have a good chance of finishing on the podium at Tokyo. I would like to wish the team all the very best and I hope that they do well in the Olympics this year,” signed off the former India defender.