THE nation remembers and acknowledges its heroes on their feats whenever the Olympic Games are held after every four years. Pakistan has reached the zenith at the Olympics thrice – at Rome in 1960, at Mexico in 1968 and at Los Angeles in 1984.
Incidentally, the greenshirts have performed Grand Slam thrice by winning back-to-back titles – Asian Games (1958) and Olympic Games (1960); Olympic Games (1968), Asian Games (1970) and World Cup (1971); World Cup (1981-82), Asian Games (1982) and Olympic Games (1984).
It is pertinent to mention that the Hockey World Cup was introduced in 1971.
In all, Pakistan has won eight medals – 3-3-2 in field hockey since the country made its debut at the London Games in 1948. The remaining two bronze medals have been won in wrestling and boxing.
After failing to win any medal at the London and Helsinki Games, hockey team overcame the jinx by capturing silver at Melbourne in 1956. Since then there was no stopping them. With one exception when the country boycotted the Moscow Games in 1980, Pakistan has always been on the podium for 36-years – from 1956 to 1992.
Unfortunately, the standard of hockey has really deteriorated for quite some time in the country which is evident from the fact that the national hockey team has not won an Olympic medal since the last two decades, what to speak of other games.
And this year, the country experienced the darkest hour of its sporting history when the national hockey team, for the first time ever, failed to qualify for the Rio Olympics.
Pakistan’s smallest ever Olympic contingent comprising just seven spotspersons including two athletes, two swimmers, two shooters and one judoka recently left for Rio to accomplish their dreams, accompanied by as many as 10 officials.
While nations around the world whose hockey teams are competing at Rio Games are celeberating their participation, hockey crazy Pakistanis are sad on the blow.
“It’s unbelievable”. “No Pakistani can think that the greenshirts will fall such low and create history of sorts,” a dejected Rome Olympic gold medallist Abdul Waheed Khan told Dawn.
“We had undergone rigourous three to four months training in the camp at Lahore where the morale of players was very high and the slogan “Victory at Rome” was written all over the walls of our bedrooms and elsewhere which infused a fighting spirit among the players,” recalled the former hockey spearhead.
He added that then camp commandant and manager retired Col A I S Dara had worked hard and emphasised more on individual practice in the camp.
The 82-year-old Waheed, who retired from Customs, narrated how Pakistan defeated Australia 3-0, Poland 8-0, Japan 10-0, Germany 2-1 (quarter-final), Spain 1-0 (semi-final) and India 1-0 in the final. Inside left Naseer Bunda scored the decisive goal that put an end to India’s unbeaten era.
Records show that the Indian hockey team by then had played 30 Olympic matches without losing any, scoring as many as 197 goals while conceding only eight. Their record of winning eight Olympics in 1928, 1932, 1936, 1948, 1952, 1956, 1964 and 1980, however, remains unsurpassed.
Waheed, who also has a passion for tennis and is associated with Modern Club as administrator since his retirement, said President Ayub Khan invited the victorious team at the President House in Karachi and it was then that he declared hockey as the national game.
Pakistan’s national anthem was played at the Olympics again when its hockey team defeated Australia 2-1 in the final at Mexico in 1968. Asad Malik scored the decisive goal against Australia in the final.
“The team had entered the competition with a resounding 6-0 victory over Holland and kept the tempo by winning one match after the other,” member of the victorious team Jehangir Butt told Dawn.
The probables had undergone training in back-to-back camps set-up at Lower Topa, Muree, with late Brigadier Atif then serving as camp commandant. The probables used to cross a hill to go for daily practice at Gharial camp. An 18-member team was picked after the final trials that were also held at Muree and Tariq Aziz was named as captain.
Recalling those days, the former Olympian said after the triumph, the team went to visit New York by road where they saw the impressive UNO building and later also visited the Niagara Falls.
“Pakistan hockey team got heroes’ welcome upon arrival in the country and travelled from Karachi to Peshawar by train besides playing exhibition matches in different cities in between,” he added.
Jehangir disclosed that each member of the victorious team was awarded Rs10,000 and a piece of land at Muzaffargarh.
Los Angeles Olympics
“It took Pakistan 16-years to recapture the Olympic title at the Los Angeles in 1984 but it was not an easy task. At one stage, Pakistan had to depend on Kenya’s margin of defeat against Holland in order to qualify for the semis which they eventually did” recalled Pakistan’s ex-Olympian centre-half Ayaz Mahmood.
“Pakistan had an unimpressive run in pool B. They opened their campaign by playing 3-3 against New Zealand, defeated Kenya 3-0, shared points with Holland after being tied 3-3, overwhelmed Canada 7-1 and held Great Britain to a goalless draw in the last league match, Ayaz told Dawn.
Ayaz said he together with full back Tauqir Dar went to watch the Kenya-Holland match while the others players stayed at the Olympic Village to pray. “After overcoming early hiccups, Pakistan team clicked in the last two matches when it mattered most.
Spearhead Hasan Sardar’s decisive goal helped Pakistan beat Australia 1-0 in the semi-final. Pakistan’s victim in the final was Germany whom they defeated by odd goal in three (2-1) to clinch the title third time. Hasan Sardar scored Pakistan’s first goal while right winger Kalimullah slammed the second in the final against Germans. The former emerged top scorer of the competition.
He said Inside left Saeed Khan, who accompanied the team on the preceding European training tour, had knee injury and on his refusal Mushtaq was selected in the LA-bound team.
He added that the team and the management had undergone severe criticism before departure to LA but it did the nation proud.
He attributed the team’s success to the vision of PHF president retired Air Marshal Nur Khan and the secretary retired Brig M. H.Atif. They had started preparations for the LA Games soon after Pakistan had won the World Cup at Buenos Aires in 1978 and boycotted the Moscow Games two years later, he maintained.
The former Olympian said launch of the PIA colts yielded fruitful results as its 10 players were among 16-member team that won the gold at LA. The 10 players were Manzoor Hussain Jr (Captain), Moinuddin, Qasim Zia, Saleem Sherwani, Shahid Ali Khan, Ayaz Mahmood, Naeem Akhtar, Ishtiaq Ahmed, Nasir Ali and Khalid Hameed.
He went on to add that President Zia-ul-Haq handed over the letters of residential plots to members of the winning team in G10 II sector in Islamabad at a reception that also bade farewell to the 1988 Seoul Olympics bound hockey team.
Ayaz, now serving PIA as sales manager, pointed fingers at some technocrats of the game who, instead of repaying the debt, damaged the national game besides misappropriating millions of rupees during the last one decade.
“All the good work that was done over many decades in the past has been destroyed and it will now take a long time to repair the damage,” he lamented.
Pakistan at the Olympics:
— Like father like son
Mahmood-ul-Hasan (1948, 1952) and Ayaz Mahmood (1984)
Munir Dar (1956, 1960, 1964) and Tauqir Dar (1984)
Chaudhry Ghulam Rasool (1956, 1960) and Akhtar Rasool (1972, 1976)
K. M. Aslam (1952) and K. M. Junaid (1992)
Saeed Anwar (1968, 1972) and Anjum Saeed (1992)
Col Zafri (1960) and Amir Zafar (1988)
— Brothers who played in the Olympics
Abdul Hamid “Hamidi” (1948, 1952, 1956, 1960) and Abdul Rasheed junior (1968, 1972)
Shahzada Shahrukh (1948) and Shahzada Khurram (1948)
Munir Dar (1956, 1960, 1964) and Tanvir Dar (1968, 1972)
Mohammad Amin (1956) and Khurshid Azam (1964)
Khurshid Aslam (1960) and Akhtar-ul-Islam (1972)
Manzoor-ul-Hasan (1976) and Rasheed-ul-Hasan (1984)
Samiullah (1976) and Kalimullah (1984)
Mohammad Sarwar (1996, 2000) and Mohammad Zubair (2008)
Note: It was the first stance that two brothers – Shahrukh and Khurram – played in the same team at the London Olympics in 1948. In 1956, the former represented Pakistan in cycling.
— Players who donned Indo-Pak colours
Retired Col A I S Dara (1936 India, 1948 Pakistan); P. P. Fernandes (1936 India, 1948 Pakistan); Akhtar Hussain (1948 India, 1956 Pakistan); Latif-ur-Rehman (1948 India; 1952, 1956 Pakistan)
— Rare honour
Retired Brig S. M. H. Atif is the only Pakistani who was involved in all the three Olympic gold medal winning campaigns of the country. He was a member of the Rome Olympics gold medal winning team and managed the victorious teams at Mexico and Los Angeles.
— Four Olympics
Retired Brig Abdul Hamid “Hamidi” (1948, 1952, 1956, 1960) and retired Brig S. M. H. Atif (1952, 1956, 1960, 1964) stood tall having represented Pakistan at four Olympics apiece
— Achievements at a glance
(Tabulated under: year, city, gold, silver and bronze)
1948 London - - -
1952 Helsinki - - -
1956 Melbourne - 1 -
1960 Rome 1 - 1
1964 Tokyo - 1 -
1968 Mexico 1 - -
1972 Munich - 1 -
1976 Montreal - - 1
1980 Moscow did not participate
1984 Los Angeles 1 - -
1988 Seoul - - 1
1992 Barcelona - - 1
1996 Atlanta - - -
2000 Sydney - - -
2004 Athens - - -
2008 Beijing - - -
2012 London - - -
NOTE: Wrestler Mohammad Bashir won bronze in 74kg freestyle at the 1960 Rome Olympics and boxer Syed Hussain Shah won bronze in 1988. All other medals have been won by hockey teams.
Published in Dawn, August 4th, 2016