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Indian men's, women's team receive grand welcome after successful Asian Games

The enthusiastic hockey fans in the national capital gathered at the airport to welcome their heroes who made the country proud with their splendid performance.

Indian mens, womens team receive grand welcome after successful Asian Games

The Indian men's hockey team which won the gold. (Photo- HI Media)

NEW DELHI: The Indian Men's and Women's Hockey Teams returned to India from Hangzhou after a successful campaign at the 19th Asian Games Hangzhou and were greeted with rapturous applause from the hockey fans present at the Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi late Monday night. The Indian Men's Hockey Team won the gold medal, and the Indian Women's Hockey Team claimed the bronze medal in Hangzhou.

The enthusiastic hockey fans in the national capital gathered at the airport to welcome their heroes who made the country proud with their splendid performance in the biggest tournament of the year.

The emotional hockey fans surrounded the hockey stars as the Hockey India officials presented the teams with sweets and garlands among other tokens of appreciation. The fans also played music and danced at the airport to celebrate the occasion and showcase their support for the teams. The family members of hockey players were also among the gathering at the airport.

The hockey players too enjoyed the warm atmosphere and expressed their delight in witnessing the rising appreciation of the sport once again in the country. "This journey has been amazing," Indian Men's Hockey Team Captain Harmanpreet Singh said as quoted by a Hockey India press release.

"We went to Hangzhou with the mindset of being Asia's best team and we wanted to play accordingly. We kept improving match-by-match which built our confidence, and we came back with the result we desired," he added.

The Indian Men's Hockey Team ended the 9-year wait for the Asian Games Gold medal in Hangzhou. Led by Captain Harmanpreet Singh, India claimed the gold medal defeating Japan 5-1 in the Final, and confirmed their spot for the 2024 Tokyo Olympics. This was India's fourth Gold medal in Men's Field Hockey at the Asian Games. India had previously won the Gold medal in 1966, 1998, and 2014.

Harmanpreet added: "Seeing the gathering of fans here further gives us the motivation to now focus on the preparations for the 2024 Paris Olympics. We have time, we will work on the areas where we need to improve upon and we will do our best to convert the Olympic Bronze to Gold."

India remained unbeaten throughout the tournament, starting their campaign with a 16-0 win over Uzbekistan, and following it up with a 16-1 win over Singapore.

India defeated Japan 4-2 in the Pool stage and then defeated Pakistan 10-2 to claim their biggest-ever win by the goal margin against their neighbouring rivals. India followed it up with a 12-0 win over Bangladesh to confirm a spot in the Semi-Finals, where they defeated Korea 5-3 to reach the Final. India defeated Japan 5-1 to win the Gold medal.

Meanwhile, the Indian women's hockey team, too, earned a Bronze medal and a podium finish in Hangzhou, claiming their 7th medal in the Asian Continental tournament. Delighted by the presence of fans on arrival, the Indian women's hockey team expressed their gratitude and said that the team is further motivated to continue to do better in the coming year.

"It is always a moment of pride for parents when they see us return home with medals in major competitions. It is great to see all the support here and I thank the fans as they motivate us to continue to do even better.

I also feel happy for young players as they are witnessing this moment for the first time in their careers and it will be a memorable experience for them," Savita said.

India displayed their dominance in the Group Stage, going unbeaten with a spectacular 13-0 win against Singapore, and following it up with a convincing 6-0 win over Malaysia. A hard-fought 1-1 draw against Korea showcased their resilience, and they sealed their position atop Pool A with a resounding 13-0 win over Hong Kong China.

However, India went down 0-4 to China to miss out on the Final but defeated Japan 2-1 in the Bronze medal match to earn a podium finish. Indian Women's Hockey Team will now compete in the FIH Olympics Qualifiers to earn qualification for the 2024 Paris Olympics.

"Though our target was to win Asian Games Gold, we are happy with our performance in Hangzhou. We are eager to earn a spot at the 2024 Paris Olympics as our target is to get a podium finish in Paris. We will begin training for the Qualifiers soon, and work on certain areas where we could have done better. It is great to see the continuing support of women's hockey in the country and we want to continue to make the nation proud," Savita signed off.

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