The country’s eighth and last gold in hockey came in the 1980 Moscow Olympics.

Reliving Indian hockeys glory days On this day in 1928 India won its first Olympic gold1936 Olympic team /
news Sports Friday, May 26, 2017 - 17:27

India first sent a team to the Olympics in 1920 but it was only eight years later that a hockey team took part. The year was 1928 and the venue Amsterdam. Indian hockey’s fairy-tale run started from that year with the team winning the gold in the final, which was played on May 26.

In Dhyan Chand, India had the greatest player of his generation, described as ‘hockey wizard’ and ‘magician’. He was the leading scorer for India at the 1928 Olympics with 14 goals, including a hat-trick in the final against the Netherlands. He was instrumental in India winning the gold at 1932 Los Angeles and 1936 Berlin as well. It is said that at the height of his career, officials even dismantled his hockey stick to check if it had a magnet inside.

Post the Second World War, the Olympics resumed with London hosting it in 1948. It also marked independent India’s first Olympics. India beat the hosts Great Britain in the final to win their fourth successive gold. India won six gold medals on the trot in the hockey competition till 1956 with the first reverse coming in the 1960 Rome Olympics where they lost to Pakistan in the final. India avenged their defeat to arch-rivals Pakistan and won their seventh gold in 1964 Tokyo Olympics. The country’s eighth and last gold came in the 1980 Moscow Olympics.

Since then, India have never even come close to winning a medal with the best finish being fifth in 1984 Los Angeles Olympics. Astro-turf or artificial grass was introduced in the late seventies and this shift from natural grass to astro-turf has been blamed for the rapid decline of Indian hockey. From that point onwards, the modern game became much more exacting with stamina and physical fitness playing key roles and this was where the Indians were found severely wanting.

However, Indian hockey is seeing a resurgence of late with a string of creditable results. In the last Olympics held at Rio in 2016, the team entered the knockout stages after 36 years and finished eighth. India’s junior team won the World Cup in 2016 after a gap of 15 years. At the Hockey World League Final in 2015, the Indian team won the bronze beating the more fancied Netherlands in a thrilling shootout. This came after a gap of 33 years, as India last won a medal (bronze) at the international level at the 1982 Champions Trophy. All these results augur well and under the guidance of the present coach Roelant Oltmans, a medal at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics is a real possiblity.  

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