The Indian team has set several astonishing records over the years.
Manpreet Singh-led India have travelled to Buenos Aires, Argentina for six matches against the Olympic champions. Talking of Olympics, at its peak, the Indian men’s hockey team was unplayable at times, setting various records which to date remain insurmountable.
Not only did team India set new benchmarks, but they had a swagger about their play, which mesmerized onlookers and continues to inspire the new generation of Indian hockey.
Let’s take a look at some of the records set by the Indian team:
5. Biggest winning margin in men’s hockey match at Olympics
India travelled to Los Angeles in 1932 for the country’s second-ever appearance in the field hockey event. The Men in Blue were the defending champions after winning gold in their debut campaign four years earlier in Amsterdam, Netherlands.
Three teams participated in the event – India, Japan and hostd USA. India thrashed Japan 11-1 in the opening fixture, but surprisingly their best was yet to come. They locked horns with the hosts in the last match to determine the winner of the event.
Certain American newspapers had suggested that to make it a contest, the Indians ought to play left-handed. They knew that the home team would face an uphill task against a formidable Indian unit. And it certainly showed on the pitch!
India had a 10-0 lead at half-time and won the match 24-1. Roop Singh scored 10 goals, Dhyan Chand found the back of the net eight times, Gurmit Singh scored five, while the other goal was scored by Broome Pinniger. William Boddington’s strike was a mere consolation for the USA.
4. Lowest number of goals conceded in a single Olympics
The Indian team was not only prolific in front of goal but also displayed their water-tight defence on more than one occasion.
In their maiden participation in 1928, India was the only non-European participant in the event. The European nations knew very little about the Indian team, but they would soon discover the team’s all-round abilities at both ends of the pitch.
India easily overcame group stage opponents Austria, Belgium, Denmark and Switzerland 6-0, 9-0, 5-0 and 6-0 respectively. In the gold medal match, India defeated hosts Netherlands 3-0. In doing so, India went through the entire tournament without conceding a single goal.
28 years later, India travelled down under for the Melbourne Olympics. The group stage saw resounding victories over Afghanistan, the USA and Singapore by respective scorelines of 14-0, 16-0 and 6-0. This was followed by consecutive 1-0 victories versus Germany and Pakistan in the semi-final and the gold medal match. Thus, India matched their record of not letting in a single goal across the entire tournament, a feat that hasn’t been matched since.
3. Biggest winning margin in men’s hockey gold medal match at Olympics
In the year 1936, India travelled to Berlin, Germany as hot favourites. Yet again, India set the record books tumbling with one breathtaking performance after another.
The Indians outclassed Japan, Hungary and United States in the group stages, before blowing away France in the semi-final. They reached the final without conceding a goal and took on hosts Germany in the gold medal clash.
India overcame the Germans with minimum fuss going on to record an 8-1 triumph, courtesy of four goals from Dhyan Chand, a brace from Ali Dara, and one each from Carlyle Tapsell and Sayed Jaffar. Kurt Weiss scored the lone goal for Germany.
2. Most goals scored in a single Olympics in men’s hockey
The 1980 Olympics remain the last time India have tasted glory in hockey.
India started the tournament, held in Moscow, with aplomb. The opening match saw India beat Tanzania 18-0. This was followed by 2-2 stalemates against Poland and Spain. The Men in Blue then humbled Cuba 13-0 and finished the preliminary stage with a 4-2 victory against the hosts the Soviet Union.
In the gold medal match, India claimed a narrow 4-3 win versus Spain at the Central Dynamo Stadium. Ultimately, the Indians finished with a whopping 43 goals.
1. Most gold medals in Olympics men’s hockey
Despite not having added any medals to their tally for 40 years, India’s record gold medals mark remains intact.
Over the years, India has claimed a record eight gold medals, one silver and two bronze medals. The nation has claimed double the gold medals as that of second-placed Germany.
India’s triumphs started with six successive Olympic gold medals (another record) in 1928, 1932, 1936, 1948, 1952 and 1956. The Olympics were halted in between due to the outbreak of World War II. Further gold medals followed in 1964 and 1980, as the country has dominated the sport like no other.
Despite falling down the pecking order in recent times, India, currently ranked fifth in the FIH World Rankings, are aiming to bring back the glory days at the upcoming Tokyo Olympics.