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A group of Indian expats in the UAE celebrating their country's bronze medal win in hockey in the Tokyo Olympics 2020.

Dubai: India’s bronze medal win in the Tokyo Olympics 2020 has brought immense joy to Indian expats living in the UAE as well.

The men’s team’s thrilling 5-4 victory in the bronze medal match on Thursday got the country its first podium finish in 41 years. A group of Indian expatriates got together at the foot of Burj Khalifa on Thursday evening to celebrate their joy of their country’s remarkable achievement in the Olympics.

Holding the Indian national flag and placards and sharing sweets with each other, the group symbolically celebrated the success, the participants said in a press release. They said they did not want to miss out on this once in a lifetime opportunity.

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Emotional moment

“It is being seen as a huge emotional moment, particularly for a generation which had heard great stories of India’s hockey exploits, but in reality, had only seen the game’s decline. This medal has whitewashed over four-decades of disappointment and dejection that the admirers of this sport have faced. Probably, this is the reason why there has been an outpouring of emotions after this excellent and hard-fought victory,” the release stated.

The participants said that they wanted to send out a symbolic but highly significant message to all the people back home — that Non-Resident Indians across the globe share the joy of this magical moment and would like to express their appreciation to the Indian Hockey Team, the coach and the entire Indian Hockey Fraternity for providing such an incredible moment of celebration, after a long wait of 41 years. Priyadarshee Panigrahi, general manager of an FMCG company based in Dubai, who was part of the celebrations, said it was the moment he and his generation had been dreaming of.

“A podium finish for the country after 41 years is an emotional moment and I hope this would lead to a rebirth of the game in India,” he said. Imdad Mohammed, an insurance industry professional, said the hockey lovers felt it was very apt to celebrate such a momentous victory at an iconic venue — Burj Khalifa, the tallest tower in the world.

Pride of Odisha

Most of the participants are from the eastern India state of Odisha. The state has sponsored the national men’s and women’s hockey teams since 2018. It has ramped up its investment in hockey and other sports infrastructure. Over the years, it has also produced several national-level hockey players.

With this victory, Odisha’s contribution to the advancement of this game is being widely talked about, the participants said, adding that their celebration was also meant to thank the Odisha government for its generous patronage of this sport.