12 March, 2008

A tragedy of Olympian proportions

A saga started exactly 80 years ago. It went like this:

Gold, Gold, Gold, Gold, Gold, Gold, Silver, Gold, Bronze, Bronze, _, Gold. Thus it ended with a silver, nay, Gold lining 28 years ago.

In the Golden era during 1928 - 1956, India played 24 Olympic matches, winning all 24, scoring 178 goals and conceding only 7.

After 28 consecutive victories in the Olympic Games, India lost 0-1 to Pakistan in the final at the Rome Olympics in 1960, but regained its 'Golden' status in the next Olympics. But...

then started the real trouble.

Thereafter, we had to be smug with Bronze, Bronze, and then no medal at all. With the sole exception of 1980 Moscow Olympics, Indian Hockey was virtually thrown out of Olympic games. Though initially there was a hue and cry, India quickly got accustomed to playing qualifying games (initially thought to be "insulting" to a team which has a glorious past) just to get into the Olympics as IHF started playing with the game more unabashedly.

This time, Had India won the crucial match against China in Asian Games 2006, it could have reached the finals and there would not be any need for playing the qualifying matches. But it didn't happen.

Had it won the final match against England yesterday,... But it didn't happen either.

As usual, blame game starts which is played more fervently than the game itself, one or two heads will fall and Indian Hockey will rest in peace. Amen!