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Rio Olympics 2016: Indian Olympic Hockey Trivia

Here are some facts that you should know about India's performances at the Olympics.

Indian hockey team 1936
The Indian team won gold in 1936

India’s feat of eight gold medals holds a special place on the Olympic stage. Every Olympic campaign has thrown excitement, controversies, anecdotes, etc. Let us look at the interesting glimpses of the country’s Olympic hockey campaign be it stats, incidents or other facts that you might not know as India heads to the 2016 Rio Olympics


1) Surinder Sodhi scored 15 goals in India’s gold medal campaign at the 1980 Moscow Olympics

2) Indian goalkeeper Richard Allen did not concede a single goal at the 1928 Amsterdam Olympics

3) Indian team manager Pankaj Gupta for the 1936 Berlin Olympics was worried about the poor form of Mirza Masood and asked the IHF to rush in Ali Dar as his replacement

4) India played a gruelling seven league matches at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.

5) Balbir Singh scored six goals in India’s 8-1 rout of Argentina at the 1948 London Olympics but was axed for the next two games against Spain and the Netherlands. There was a clamour for Balbir’s return to the side and he vindicated the move scoring a brace, in India’s superb 4-0 final triumph over hosts Great Britain.

6) At the 1928 Amsterdam Olympics, there was a great deal of unrest over the ‘captaincy issue – Jaipal was appointed captain amidst opposition by the Anglo-Indian players in the squad – Jaipal walked out of the team midway through the tournament and Eric Pinniger took charge

7) The national team for the 1952 Helsinki Olympics had a pre-Olympic camp in Copenhagen, Denmark – the move was designed to get the players used to the Nordic weather conditions, as the Olympics were held in Finland

8) The 1972 Munich Olympics, which were overshadowed by the Palestinian terrorist attack on Israeli athletes, marked the arrival of Ashok Kumar, son of legendary Dhyan Chand.

9) Wizard Dhyan Chand scoring a hat-trick on his Olympic debut at the 1928 Amsterdam Olympics in India’s 6-0 win over Austria.

10) Dhyan Chand was not keeping well ahead of the final the 1928 Amsterdam Olympics final but he not only played the final but also scored twice in India’s 3-0 win over the Dutch.

11) Dhyan Chand may have slammed three hat-tricks at the 1928 Amsterdam Olympics, but there was one man - Feroze Khan – who also had his day under the sun, slamming a hat-trick, en route to scoring five goals in India’s 9-0 win over Belgium.

12) Captaincy again became an issue at the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics –groupism existed within the team (Indians vs Anglo- Indians). It all started when Lal Shah Bokhari was named captain ahead of Eric Pinniger. But better sense prevailed after the team’s non-playing captain Pankaj Gupta cajoled Pinniger to accept Bokharis captaincy.

13) At the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics, India’s second goalkeeper Arthur Hind refused to don the turban just before the march-past during the opening ceremony – he was asked to return home but was later allowed to stay back after he tendered an apology.

14) India bulldozed USA 24-1 at the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics – it remains the biggest victory margin in Olympic men’s hockey

15) The brother duo of Dhyan Chand (8) and Roop Singh (10) pounded 18 goals at the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics.

Also read: PR Sreejesh: "We will have 11 captains on the field"

16) The Indian men’s hockey team were a bundle of nerves going into the 1936 Berlin Olympics. Wonder why? Well, the national team had lost comprehensively 1-4 to hosts Germany in a practice game in the run up to the Berlin Olympics.

17) Dhyan Chand captained India for the first time at the 1936 Berlin Olympics – he was in his elements, consistently firing for India, including two hat-tricks.

18) India’s streak of six gold medals was brought to an end at the 1960 Rome Olympics – as they lost to Pakistan by a solitary goal.

19) Leslie Claudius became the first Indian hockey player to feature in four Olympics – 1948, 1952, 1956, 1960.

20) Some of the Middle East countries boycotted the 1956 Melbourne Olympics over the Suez Canal imbroglio – even the likes of Spain and the Netherlands, pulled out protesting the Russian handling of the Hungarian revolution.

21) Wizard Dhyan Chand slammed three hat-tricks at the 1928 Amsterdam Olympics vs Austria, Denmark and Switzerland.

22) Skipper Balbir Singh slammed five goals in the first tie against Afghanistan at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics but suffered a fractured finger in that game and missed the league phase, as Randhir Singh Gentle led the side in the rest of the league phase after which Balbir returned.

23) Balbir Singh struck five goals in India’s 6-1 demolition of the Netherlands in the final of the1952 Helsinki Olympics –  he set a new record for scoring most individual goals in an Olympic final match.

24) There was a tussle for captaincy at the 1968 Mexico Olympics – as both Prithipal Singh and Gurbux Singh were named joint captain.

25) Fullback Michael Kindo became the first ‘Adivasi’ to play for India at the 1972 Munich Olympics.

26) At the 1976 Montreal Olympics, there were murmurs that the team was rocked by infighting concerning division of money generated through the sale of hockey sticks – it was for the first time India went medal-less finishing seventh.

27) Late Mohammed Shahid scored India’s match-winner against Spain in the final of the 1980 Moscow Olympics.

Also read: Thank you Mohammed Shahid for those dribbles and magical stick work 

28) Fullback Vineet Kumar struck a sizzling hat-trick as India prevailed over Malaysia 3-1 at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics.

29) India needed a draw against Great Britain to reach the semifinals of the 1988 Seoul Olympics but lost 0-3 to slip out of medal contention.

30) The scars of the drawn India-Malaysia game during the Olympic qualifying event in Spain (which denied Canada an Olympic berth) was very much at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics - there amidst talks that some of the senior players were aware of the plan to play out a draw.

31) Poland denied India a semifinal berth at the 2000 Sydney by scoring a late goal to draw 1-1 when the latter needed a win to make the semis cut.

32) The Indian team had a new coach – Gerhard Rach just three weeks ahead of the 2004 Athens Olympics –replacing Rajinder Singh – the move backfired as India finished a poor seventh.

33) The Indian team manager for the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics GD Sondhi was getting along with the players – on their arrival in Los Angeles, Sondhi stayed in a hotel, while the team was put up at the Olympic Village.

34) India failed to qualify for the Olympics for the first time ever in 2008 after losing to Great Britain in the Olympic qualifying event in Chile.

35) India added another ‘dubious first’ at the 2012 London Olympics – finishing with a forgettable wooden spoon.

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