Rome hockey Olympian Joe Antic passes away

Antic represented the country in the Rome Games where Pakistan ended India’s glorious 32-year golden run by winning the final 1-0. A centre half, Antic also was part of the hockey squad that finished runner-up, again to Pakistan, at the Asian Games two years later.

Joe Antic toured East Africa and Europe with the senior hockey team in the late 1950s and retired from Western Railway in the mid-1980s.   -  The Hindu Archives

Joseph Antic, a silver medallist in men’s hockey for India at the Rome Olympics, passed away quietly into history on Tuesday night, hours after the Rio Olympics national men’s and women’s hockey squads were unveiled in New Delhi. He is survived by son William and daughter Rita.

He was 90 and had been admitted in a hospital last week for age-related fatigue. Breathing problems set in later and he was put on oxygen.

Antic played in the centre-half position at the 1960 Olympic Games and received the silver medal at the Olympic Velodrome. Pakistan won the gold, while Spain grabbed the bronze. He played at a time when finishing second at the Olympics out of 16 nations was considered an under-achievement.

With the Olympic medal in his collection, Antic continued representing Western Railway in tournaments in Mumbai and national-level competitions.

His game was remarkable for power-packed hits and body play. The passion and energy continued after retirement, as Antic coached Western Railway, and then took up a coaching assignment in Oman.

Agencies add: After his playing days, Antic took up coaching. After being one of the coaches in the Indian team’s World Cup camp in 1973, he became the national coach of the Oman team that took part in the 1982 Asian Games in Delhi.

“He was the Oman national team’s coach for two years,” his son, William said.

S.S. Naqvi, who was his former Bombay (now Mumbai) and Western Railway teammate, wrote on his Facebook page that one by one the stalwarts of Indian hockey during its Golden era (1928—1964 when the country won seven of its eight gold medals in Olympics) are departing from this world.

“The Golden era stalwarts are now leaving one by one. The passing of Mr J. Antic is another blow. I sincerely offer my deepest condolences on his sad demise. May God bless his soul in peace. I pray the Almighty to give patience for the greatest loss to Antic dynasty,” said Naqvi.

“I may add that Mr Antic and myself started playing in the Western Rly, Bombay XI and the Indian Railways as well as coaches at the 1973 World Cup camp at NIS Patiala and Calcutta. We both had captained the Bombay XI, Western Rly. The greatest centre half was most outstanding defender,” wrote Naqvi.