India will complete 75 years of Independence this year. Here is a series acknowledging 75 great sporting achievements by Indian athletes. Sportstar will present one iconic sporting achievement each day, leading up to August 15, 2022.
India’s last Olympic Hockey Gold at the 1980 Moscow Games
After a tumultuous period following the hockey debacle at the 1976 Montreal Olympics, India fielded a relatively young but talented side for the Moscow Games, where barring skipper Vasudevan Baskaran and goalkeeper Bir Bahadur Chhetri, the rest made their debut.
READ: In Pictures: Indian hockey's 1980 Olympic gold journey
The Games, though, were marred by a U.S.-led boycott over the Russian presence in Afghanistan.
As such, men’s hockey had just six teams with the medallists of the previous Games — New Zealand, Australia and Pakistan, besides European powerhouses West Germany and Holland — remaining absent. Thus, a gold medal for India was a foregone conclusion.
It was not all smooth sailing for the Indians who drew 2-2 with both Poland and Spain in the league phase while trouncing a weak Tanzania 18-0, Cuba 13-0 and Russia 4-2 to qualify for the final.
India had to work hard for the gold as Spain put up a fighting performance. Goals by Surinder Singh Sodhi (2), Mohd Shahid and M.K. Kaushik set up a 4-3 win for India.
Despite India winning the gold after a lapse of 16 years, few attached much significance given that the top teams stayed out of the competition. Yet, the triumph helped to soothe the nerves and restore a modicum of respectability to Indian hockey whose slide was at least temporarily halted.
(Read the full article published in The Hindu on July 17, 2012 )