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Behind India’s great hockey win is Naveen Patnaik who built hockey back

Sparkling with euphoria, India was elated when the men’s hockey team won its first medal in 1980 and the man behind this is Naveen Patnaik.

Indian Hockey History

The India men’s hockey team on Thursday, August 5th won its first Olympic medal since Moscow 1980 ending the 41-year drought at the Tokyo Olympic Game 2021.

When India last won an Olympic gold medal in hockey in 1980, it was the cold war era and an entirely different world where a number of countries had boycotted the 1980 Olympic Games held in the USSR, which of course now no longer exists.

At that time, the world was submerged in the feverish anti-USSR aftereffect of World War-II, between the capitalist bloc led by the US and the socialist bloc led by the USSR, which dissolved in 1990. In India, Indira Gandhi had come back to power after the Emergency-Janata Party experiment only about six months back and the nation rejoiced at that time when India won gold for hockey.

At that time, in Odisha, Janaki Ballabh – had become the chief minister only recently and India won the gold medal in hockey at that time.  While then the chief minister had no role in the great win in hockey, today definitely, the Indian Hockey’s great win can be attributed to Naveen Patnaik building up the backbone of Indian hockey.

How Naveen Patnaik Stepped in to Help Indian Hockey with a 100 Crore Deal

It was a trialing time for Hockey India where hockey seemed to be falling apart with the then sponsors backing out this is when Chief Minister of Odisha Naveen Patnaik pitched in to help.

It is to be recalled that Naveen Patnaik had played the game in his younger days. Naveen Patnaik played hockey as a goalkeeper while he was studying at the Doon school.

The official sponsor, Sahara had backed out from sponsoring the Indian hockey teams – men and women – in 2018 and this indicated no competitive play for the Indian hockey teams. This is when the Naveen Patnaik government of Odisha stepped in with a Rs 100 crore deal with Hockey India.

The Naveen Patnaik government determined to sponsor the men and women hockey teams for the next five years. Three years down the line, the women’s team missed a medal by a tiny line, but in the bargain stole the hearts of hockey lovers across the world with their dazzling display of talent and fortitude. The men’s team ended the four-decade drought at the Olympics.

The Hockey India sponsorship flowed from Odisha holding the Champions Trophy hockey tournament in 2014 with Naveen Patnaik pouring out personal attention to the game.

In 2017, the Naveen Patnaik government-sponsored Kalinga Lancers club won the Hockey India League. Odisha next hosted the Hockey World League in 2018.

FIH (International Hockey Federation) Men’s Series Finals and Olympic Hockey Qualifiers came in 2019 and FIH Pro League in 2020 were all under Naveen Patnaik’s watch.

India Takes Bronze on August 5, 2021, in Tokyo

Today, India’s men’s hockey team writes history, winning bronze, celebrating wildly after scoring their third goal against Germany during the men’s field hockey bronze medal match, at the 2020 Summer Olympics, in Tokyo, Thursday, Aug. 5, 2021.

They claimed an Olympic medal after 41 years, beating a spirited Germany 5-4 to win the bronze in an edge-of-the-seat play-off match of the ongoing Games here on Thursday.

Simranjeet Singh (17th, 34th minutes) scored a brace, while Hardik Singh (27th), Harmanpreet Singh (29th), and Rupinder Pal Singh (31st) were the other goal-getters for world no.3.

It is India’s third hockey bronze medal in the history of the Olympics. The other two came in 1968 Mexico City and the 1972 Munich Games.

Who is Naveen Patnaik?

Naveen Patnaik (born 16 October 1946) is an Indian politician serving as the current and 14th Chief Minister of Odisha. He is also the president of the Biju Janata Dal, a writer and has authored three books.

He is the longest-serving chief minister of Odisha and as of 2021, one of the longest-serving chief ministers of any Indian state, holding the post for over two decades, and only the third Indian chief Minister after Pawan Chamling and Jyoti Basu to win five consecutive terms as Chief Minister of an Indian state.

He is a writer and had for the most part of his youth been away from both politics and Odisha, but after his father Biju Patnaik’s demise, he entered politics in 1997 and a year later founded the Biju Janata Dal, named after Biju Patnaik, which won the state election with the BJP as its alliance and formed the government in which Patnaik became Chief Minister.

His mild mannerism, “Stand against corruption” and “Pro-poor policies” have resulted in the development of a huge support base in Odisha, which has voted him to power in the last five consecutive terms. Like his father, he has managed to control the bureaucracy and transformed it into a machine for the development of the state.[13] His spartan personal lifestyle and detachment from material possessions have been admired by the people of the state. He is also one of the founding members of the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage.

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