1968-76 Games: India win 2 bronzes and then finish seventh!

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Olympics Rings
Bangalore, Jul 20: Here is a look at the previous Olympic hockey tournaments. After the seventh gold at the 1964 Tokyo Games, India's golden era in hockey began to fade. They won two bronzes in the 1968 Mexico City and 1972 Munich Games and finished seventh at the 1976 Montreal Games, their worst results in the history of the Games till then.

London Olympics Special

1968 Mexico Ciy Games

A divided leadership had dented India's chances of defending its gold that year. Prithipal Singh and Gurubux Singh were declared 'joint captains' after both fought for the captaincy. Also the team was a complacent unit after winning the 1966 Asian Games gold. The other international sides, too, were fast catching up with India.

Results for India:
India lost to New Zealand 1-2, beat West Germany 2-1, beat Mexico 8-0, beat Spain 1-0, beat Belgium 2-1, beat Japan 5-0 and East Germany 1-0. They lost to Australia 1-2 in the semifinal and beat West Germeny 2-1 in the classification match to win bronze. Pakistan emerged the champions by defeating Australia 2-1 in the final.

1. India had trained in the Nilgiris to get a taste of the conditions in the Mexico City, which is located some 2,300 metres above the sea level.
2. The Indian squad that year had three players by the name of Balbir Singh. All three had played together in the match against West Germany for the third place.
3. In the match against Japan, India were awarded five goals even though they did not score even one after the Japanese walked out protesting a penalty stroke awarded against them.

1972 Munich Olympics

The 1972 Indian team at the Olympics was a fresh one with just four players from the previous edition being included. Asok Kumar, son of the legendary Dhyan Chand, made his Olympic debut this year. B P Govinda, who went on to become an iconic figure with a head band, also made his Olympic debut that year. Michale Kindo, the first tribal to don an Indian hockey jersey, also made his first apperance. The Indian squad was led by Harmek Singh.

Results for India:
In the group matches, India drew with the Netherlands 1-1, beat Great Britain 5-0, Australia 3-1, drew with Poland 2-2, beat Kenya 3-2, Mexico 8-0 and New Zealand 3-2. India lost to Pakistan 0-2 in the semifinal but beat the Netherlands 2-1 to win their second successive bronze medal. West Germany were the champions while Pakistan won silver.

1. Thirty Sikhs were represented in four teams at the Munich Games, namely, India, Kenya, Malayasia and Uganda. The match between India and Kenya saw 15 Sikhs taking the field, five on the Indian and 10 on the Kenyan side.
2. The final match saw a big ruckus after the Pakistanis lost to West Germany 0-1. The Pakistani players were banned for their atrocious behaviour after the match. Even the international hockey president was not spared and water was poured on him. Only a high-level apology was the ban reduced to two years.
3. West Germany's winning the gold meant that a European team won the top position after a gap of 52 years. It was either India or Pakistan ruling the Games from 1928 to 1968.
4. The 1972 Games were bloodied by a terrorist attack which saw 11 Israeli athletes being gunned down.

1976 Montreal Games

Nobody could imagine that within one year of winning the World Cup, Indian hockey would touch its nadir in the next Olympics. Infighting over division of money made through sale of hockey sticks marred India's chances as did the synthetic pitch, which made its Olympic debut that year. India was led by Ajit Pal Singh, who was playing his third Games.

Results for India:
India beat Argentina 4-0, lost to the Netherlands 1-3, lost to Australia 1-6, beat Canada and Malaysia 3-0 each in the group matches. In a play-off match to decide the second-place holder in the group, India lost to Australia 4-5 in the penalty shoot-out after drawing 1-1 in regular time. In the ranking classification games, India lost to West Germany 2-3 before defeating Malaysia 2-0 to finish seventh, their worst performance at the Olympics. New Zealand won the gold after defeating Australia 1-0 in the final. Pakistan won bronze after defeating the Netherlands.

1. India clearly struggled to adjust with the new synthetic pitch which was introduced at this Olympic.
2. New Zealand became the first non-Asian/non-European team to win an Olympic gold in hockey.

OneIndia News

Story first published: Friday, July 20, 2012, 18:00 [IST]
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