Dejected fans leave halfway as India loses hockey final


New Delhi : The Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium was packed with cheering crowds when India took on Australia in the mens hockey finals. By the time the match ended with India whipped 8-0, only a handful of Indian spectators remained.

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When the match began before noon, the stadium resounded with slogans like “Chak de India!”, “Jai Ho!” and “India Jeetega!”

The mood quickly toured sour as the mighty Australians took command of the fast moving game.

Although slogan shouting continued for a while, the crowd mellowed down after the first half. By then, Australia led by four goals.

While the Indians did cheer their team whenever it took posession of the ball, India’s failure to score couldn’t sustain their excitement.

Many people started leaving the stadium during the second half as Australia went up by six goals. At the end, there were just a handful of Indian supporters watching the match — and brooding.

Among the spectators were Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi. While Singh came at the start of the match, Gandhi joined him in the second half.

Different spectators reacted differently to the humiliation.

“I knew India would lose but not with such a margin. The saddest part is we could not even open our account,” said college student Rajat Arya.

“We need to focus on our national game by providing necessary facilities to players,” he said.

A dejected Sonia Dwivedi, a travel writer, said: “I am really upset as I was hoping that India will win. The worst part is that our score was nil.”

Some were satisfied that India managed to reach the finals.

“I was not expecting any miracle today (Thursday). Aussies are world champions and India did a good job of reaching the finals. I am happy we defeated England in the semis,” software engineer Gyanendra Ahuja said.

It was Australia’s fourth gold in a row since the introduction of hockey at the Games in 1998. For India, it was their first podium finish.