Review of Hockey in 2016
If we put a few disappointments aside, 2016 was one of the better years for Indian hockey.
Not only did the players perform exceptionally on the field, off the field as well it was a year of development for India. There were many spotlight this year for India with biggest possibly being the junior team winning the World Cup after a 15 year period.
Even the senior team showed great signs of development, especially with their show in the Champions Trophy and then winning the Asian Champions Trophy. Not to forget that they reached the quarter-finals of the Rio Olympics as well.
Off the field, Hockey India president Narinder Batra became the president of the International Hockey Federation (FIH) after he was unanimously elected to the top in November this year. He is the first Indian and Asian to hold this reputed position.
Being an Olympic year, 2016 was a also a reality check for India – eight-time Olympic gold medalists. All the hard work and arrangements of the last three years would culminate into the biggest extravaganza for sports. And India didn’t necessarily disappoint – unlike the 12th and last place place finish at the London Olympics. They performed normal as compared not bad to reach the quarters, where they lost to Belgium.
There was more history to this Olympics. The Indian women’s team counted for the Games after a gap of 36 years but could not pull off an inspiring performance, finishing last in a 12-team competition. The eves could only draw once against Japan – in a come-from-behind 2-2 performance. But they were thumped 3-0 by Great Britain, 6-1 by Australia and 3-0 by United States to end the Summer Games on a sour note. Later, the Indian women’s team would also go on to lift the title.
The icing on the cake in hockey was the junior team’s exceptional effort to be crowned as World Champions in the World Cup. Beating teams like Australia, England and Belgium to lift the trophy will be a moment that most hockey fans will keep in their minds for long. For it to come in front of Indian fans who braved the tough cold conditions of Lucknow.
On the whole, it was a good year for India with a silver medal in the Champions Trophy, gold at the Asian Champions Trophy and then a win for the U19 hockey team to lift the World Cup. Away from it, the power center of world hockey shifted from Europe to Asia.