The Indian women's hockey team got their 'Chak De! India' moment once again as they sealed an Olympic berth after more than 35 years. The Indian eves booked their berth in the 2016 Rio Olympics on Friday, and it is only the second time that they have qualified for the Olympics.
The women's hockey team had earlier qualified for 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow, where they finished an astounding fourth.
Ritu Rani, captain of the Indian women's hockey team, told NDTV: "We were working to achieve this for a long time." Goalkeeper Savita Punia stated: "We want to prove our mettle in the Olympics."
The eves finished fifth at the Hockey World League Semi-Finals last July, and that opened up an enormous opportunity for them to make it to the Rio Olympics. However, they could only confirm the spot for the mega event if any of the two already-qualified teams reaced the final of the ongoing EuroHockey Championship.
Spain lost to England in the semi-final of the European Championships on Friday and that paved the way for the Indian eves to make it to the grand stage.
"India qualified after England defeated Spain in the semi-finals of the Unibet EuroHockey Championships in London, which ensured that the only teams who can now win the event have already qualified for Rio through the Hockey World League Semi-Finals - Netherlands and England (as Great Britain)," the FIH (International Hockey Federation) said on its website.
"The winner of the EuroHockey Championships will qualify for the 2016 Olympics as European continental champions, opening up a further qualification spot which India secure as the team who ranked highest at the Hockey World League Semi-Finals not already qualified," it added.
Hockey India chief Narinder Batra has said that this is a very proud moment for the whole country as well as for Hockey India. "We have been waiting for this for the last 36 years and this achievement is the sweetest and the most memorable among all our previous feats in recent times," Batra said.
Indian join Asian Games Champions Korea, Pan American Games champions Argentina as well as Great Britain, China, Germany, Netherlands, Australia, New Zealand and the USA in the list of the nations already sealed qualification to the Rio 2016 Olympics.