Mumtaz Khan, star of the junior hockey World Cup, got a rousing reception as she landed here on Thursday morning. She first wanted to see her family and the coaching couple Rashid Aziz Khan and Neelam Siddiqui.
Visibly emotional, Khan, 19, hugged Rashid Khan at the Lucknow airport and said: “Sir, I am sorry as I couldn’t come home with a medal but for sure, the next time I will come with a medal for you.” Siddiqui couldn’t make it to the airport.
Despite scoring a brace in the match against England on Tuesday evening, India’s dream of reclaiming a bronze medal at the World Cup went up in smoke. India lost 0-3 in the shootout to after the teams were locked 2-2 at the end of the regulation time at Potchefstroom, South Africa.
“With only 100 seconds to go in the match, we were winning but things changed suddenly. Within minutes, we were too far from the podium.”
The agony of not winning a medal vanished as soon as Khan, India’s highest scorer in the tournament with eight goals including a hattrick, saw her people, dancing and celebrating at the airport.
“I don’t have words to describe this love and affection of people. In fact, after seeing them so excited, I forgot the pain of not winning a medal in South Africa. I hope people would continue to shower praise and love on me as they would keep me motivated to work harder. My performance will definitely inspire the youth and children who want to advance in the sport,” she said.
“I am satisfied that we all put our best foot forward. We have learnt a lot from the defeat in the semi-finals and then the bronze medal tie. Our players made small mistakes in many places. And now those mistakes have to be rectified,” she said.
Khan, who has seen many up and downs including a long injury lay-off, said she would like to continue her in junior events. Khan would be eligible to play in the 2023 Junior World Cup as well. “I am focused on my mission to achieve success at the 2023 Junior World Cup. I won’t be coming back home without a medal from 2023 event,” she said.
Khan also said that she shouldn’t be called the daughter of vegetable vendor anymore but as an India player. “It’s too much when people write about me as the daughter of a vegetable vendor. I have got my image now. I would love to be recognised as hockey player,” said Khan who will join the national camp in Bengaluru next week.
Coach Rashid Khan too looked emotional on meeting his trainee. “Winning or losing is part of sport but Mumtaz played wonderful hockey and made India proud by becoming the highest scorer for the team,” he said. “It’s just the beginning. I pray that she continues getting success,” said Rashid Khan, a coach at the Lucknow centre of the Sports Authority of India.