Pakistan won 1-0 in finals of 1960 Olympics. Four years later, India took a sweet revenge.
Sports in India are larger than life. We forget ourselves and live in the game when our national team is playing. We revel at their success and break down when they fail.
As the saying goes, “it’s darkest before dawn”, Indian hockey too awaits a new dawn. We might not have those gifted men like Dhyan Chand, and Leslie Claudius, but we do possess enough talent in every corner of the nation. While the fans await a new chapter, let's sit back and relive the glorious past of Indian hockey.
From the 1928 edition of the Summer Games to 1956, India netted a whopping 197 goals, conceding a negligible 8 and an impeccable 6 consecutive gold medals. A record to be proud of.
The next Games were in 1960 and the venue was Rome. Pakistan defeated India 1-0 with Naseer Bunda’s timeless goal and shocked the world champions of 32 years. Elated at the success, President Ayub Khan named hockey as the national sport of Pakistan. On the other hand, had India won the gold medal in Rome, legend Leslie Claudius would have become the first man ever to win four gold medals at the Olympics. He retired after the Rome loss and it ended a golden chapter in Indian hockey history.
After India were beaten again by their neighbours in the 1962 Asian Games, shadows were cast about the legacy of Indian hockey and whether the momentum was shifting borders. Charanjit Singh, the captain, and a prolific midfielder, led the team to victories in two tournaments prior to the Games. Four years back, he suffered a physical blow during the semi-finals at Rome and missed out on the finals that denied the country a gold medal.
In Tokyo, the two teams were divided into two groups for a preliminary round and were then involved in a round robin tournament with each team playing the other teams in the group at least once. India drew against East Germany and Spain and earned wins against Belgium, Malaysia, Hong Kong and Canada. A narrow defeat against Netherlands was the only black spot in the tournament. Along with Charanjit Singh's team, Spain were the second team to qualify for the knockout stage. Pakistan topped the other group after winning all the matches they played with Australia a step behind. Pakistan dampened Spain's hopes of playing the final by beating them 3-0 and India got the better of Australia by a margin of 3-1.
So, it was India vs Pakistan in the finals.
India's Prithipal Singh led the goal-scoring list before the finals. In no time, during the final, he took the game to the opposition. He along with Charanjit Singh played a few short passes and the smart moves helped India begin well.
Five minutes into second half, the barrier was broken. Mohinder Lal took full advantage of a penalty corner and netted the ball behind Abdul Hamid, the then Pakistan’s custodian. The 'Men in Green' created a few openings in the final twenty minutes but failed to score, thanks to India's goalkeeper. Shankar Lakshman, who stood under the bars like a rock.
Once the hooter went up signaling India's win, fans back home erupted in joy and celebrations started. It was a picture perfect reverse result of the scoreline from the Rome debacle. Pakistan won 1-0 then, and India won 1-0 this time around, a record 7th gold medal at the Olympics.
Since that sweet revenge, India have one gold medal in hockey, thanks to the efforts of the 1980 Moscow-winning team. While all fans are waiting for India's ninth gold medal, it won't be wrong to say that Tokyo is our last sweet memory of Indian hockey.Published 21 Sep 2016, 15:30 IST