The last Olympics was an heart rending affair for Indian Hockey as India had failed to qualify. it was a shock to millions of fans who just could not stomach that India which had won the Olympic gold 7 times had failed even to qualify.
This time round, the Indian hockey federation made it a one point program to help the Indian team book a berth to the London Olympics. The credit for this however goes only to the players, who put in a determined performance and ended the ongoing qualifying matches witha facile 8-1 victory over France. This win isall the more creditable as there is infighting in the Hockey associations and cases have been filed in the courts.
The Indian team is now looking a cohesive unit and the team is playing to its full potential. But qualifying for the Olympics is just the first stepand the road ahead is tough and strewn with stones. The fact that the last time India won a gold medal in Hockey was at the Moscow Olympics in 1976 nearly 36 years back is not a help.
Indian Hockey has a tough task to catch up with the International teams. The foreign teams play a rough game and the old skill of Dhyan Chand is a thing of the past. The Indian team will have to present a greater degree of physical fitness. They will need stamina and strength to match the European teams which play the game the hard way.
But having qualified for the Olympics the next step is winning a medal. If the Indian's play to their potential and tackle the foreign teams properly , a medal is not a distant dream.