On July 29, 1980, India won the last of it’s eight Olympic gold medals in field hockey. It has been 40 years since that day but the team hasn’t managed to find its way back to the podium at the quadrennial event.
On the contrary, India’s grip on the sport loosened to an extent that the men’s team even failed to qualify for the Olympics in 2008. Four years later in 2012, it made it back only to finish last. Now, however, India seem to enjoying a bit of a resurgence in men’s hockey but will that be enough to take them to Olympic glory again?
Despite India’s drought at the Games, such was their dominance in the days gone by that they still continue to top many of the charts when it comes to hockey in the Olympics.
Let’s take a look at some of those charts below:
All-time Olympic medal tally (Men's hockey)
For 28 years, India went unbeaten in hockey at the Olympic Games. India won 25 straight matches across that period, which also brought them six straight gold medals. Their run was ended by Pakistan at the 1960 Olympics final.
Thanks to that record-breaking streak, India still have the most wins by any team in Olympic history.
Most wins in Olympic Games
|Teams||Wins at Olympic Games|
India during their golden age where a fierce attacking side and scored goals for fun. The likes of Dhyan Chand, Roop Singh, Balbir Singh Senior were some of the star forwards of the Indian teams during that time that broke several scoring records.
Such was India’s firepower in front of the goal that in the all-time charts for goals scored, India are miles ahead of the rest.
Most goals scored in Olympic Games
|Teams||Goals scored at Olympic Games|
After India’s dominance faded in the 1960s, teams like Netherlands and Australia rose to prominence in men’s hockey but even they couldn’t conjure up a run of dominance to match that of the Indian teams of the past. No team comes close to matching India’s gold-medal streak at the event that stretched for six straight Games.
In fact, only two other teams have won back-to-back gold medals in men’s hockey apart from India.
Most consecutive gold medals at Olympics
|Team||Consecutive gold medals||Period|
In terms of consecutive medals won at the Olympics, India leads the way again. More teams have managed to win consecutive medals at the Games, but it no one has won as many gold medals at India
Most consecutive medals at Olympics
|Teams||Most consecutive medals||Medal colours||Period|
|India||10|| Gold: 7|
|Pakistan||6|| Gold: 2|
|Australia||6|| Gold: 1|
|Germany||4*|| Gold: 2|
|Netherlands||3|| Gold: 2|
Over the years, India has established several records at the Olympics and there’s no looking past them in the men’s event at the quadrennial event.
Here’s a list of records that India continue to hold:
|Most appearances in men's Olympic hockey||20||1928-2004 and 2012-2016|
|Most goals scored in a single Olympics in men's hockey||43||1980|
|Lowest number of goals conceded in a single Olympics in men's hockey||0||1928 and 1956||India are the only team to achieve this feat|
|Biggest winning margin in men's hockey match at Olympics||India 24-1 USA||1932|
|Biggest winning margin in men's hockey gold-medal match at Olympics||India 8-1 Germany||1936|
|Most goals scored by an individual player in an Olympic hockey final||5||1952 final, India 6-1 Holland||Player: Balbir Singh Senior|
The fall from grace
India’s golden age was filled with glory but the time beyond that age has been one of difficulty for Indian hockey. Forty years without an Olympic medal in the sport would have been unthinkable for the nation when they last stood on the podium in hockey at the Olympics in 1980. Since then it has all gone downhill for the team.
India's Olympics record before and after 1980
|Before 1980 Olympics||11||56||328|
|After 1980 Olympics||0||20||105|
India have qualified for the Tokyo Olympics where they will look to put an end to 40 years of wait for an Olympic medal. The task will be hard for an Indian team that has struggled to compete at the top for a while in men’s hockey, but captain Sreejesh believes it is a possibility.
“We can really bring that elusive Olympic medal back to our country if we perform to our potential in Tokyo next year,” Sreejesh was quoted as saying in a Hockey India release.
“We have shown that in our FIH Pro League matches earlier this year, that we can beat anyone, and not just beat, but also dominate them with our style of play. With one year left for our preparations, I think it (Tokyo Olympics) is going to be the biggest tournament for me as well, and something tells me that it is going to be a huge year for Indian hockey,” he added.
Optimism is good, but in Tokyo, India will need more than just that.