Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Brief history of Pakistan’s 10 Olympic medals in 64 years 

London Olympics 2012: Why didn’t we smile?

Sohail Abbas displays the happiness, excitement and confidence that was so lacking in our team as they walked by, dejectedly waving their flags, at the Olympic parade. PHOTO: REUTERS
LAHORE: Since their first-ever participation in the London Olympics in 1948, Pakistan have succeeded in winning just 10 medals in 64 years — a performance which can easily be dubbed shameful, disappointing and unacceptable by any measure and by any critic of sports anywhere on the planet.
Three of the 10 medals have been gold-plated and all were won in hockey.

As many as 515 Pakistani sportsmen have till date represented their country in the Olympics. While 83 Pakistani sportsmen had failed to win any medal at the 1948 London Olympics and at the 1952 Helsinki games, the 62-member national squad managed a silver medal at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics, where the hockey stars had gone into the finals against the triumphant Indians — who had ended up clinching the top honours with a 1-0 margin.

The 49-member Pakistani squad then went on to win its first-ever gold medal at the 1960 Rome Olympics by trampling all over their arch-rivals India under captain Abdul Hameed ‘Hameedi,’ who was an Army major.

Moreover, wrestler Mohammad Bashir had gone on to secure a third place and hence win a bronze medal in this particular event.

At the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, Pakistan had to settle for the second place after being trounced by old foes India, who had snatched a 1-0 win to claim their seventh Olympic gold medal.

The Pakistani sportsmen hence landed back home dejected from Japan with a solitary silver medal.

At the 1968 Mexico Olympics, Pakistan edged Australia by a 2-1 margin to win a gold medal. Just 20 Pakistani sportsmen had featured in this event.

Asad Malik and Abdul Rasheed scored the two goals, helping the Pakistanis hold their heads high in pride under captain Tariq Aziz, who had done his MSc in Animal Husbandry and had later joined the teaching faculty at the West Pakistan Agriculture University.

At the 1972 Munich Olympics, Pakistan hockey stars were defeated by hosts West Germany by a lone-goal margin in the final.

A 25-member Pakistani squad had participated in this particular event.

As poor and biased umpiring visibly cost Pakistan the match, all the 11 players in the final were suspended for a disorderly behaviour during the medal ceremony. Shahnaz Sheikh had reportedly taken off a shoe and swung his medal on that.

Not only was a perfect goal scored by Mudassar Asghar disallowed, but Germany was also awarded a controversial penalty corner from which they had scored in the 60th minute.

Pakistan Hockey Federation was suspended from international hockey for four years. A life ban was consequently imposed on the manager and the players involved.

However, the ban was revoked in 1974 only after an apology tendered by Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, the then Pakistani President, was accepted.

At the 1976 Montreal Olympics, the 24-member Pakistani contingent was restricted to a bronze medal. Pakistan did not participate in the 1980 Moscow Olympics, along with 60 other nations in a US-led boycott, as a mark of protest against the Soviet military intervention in Afghanistan.

The Green-shirts then won gold in Hockey at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics by defeating Germany in the final. Some 29 Pakistani sportsmen had participated at the Los Angeles Games.

At the 1988 Seoul games, boxer Syed Hussain Shah bagged a bronze medal. A 31-member Pakistani contingent had participated.

At the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, Pakistani hockey team clinched a bronze medal, courtesy Shahbaz Ahmed Senior, who was nicknamed ‘The man with the electric heels.’

A 27-member Pakistani contingent had participated in this event.

Not less than 98 Pakistani sportsmen taking part in the Atlanta games 1996, Sydney Olympics 2000, Athens 2004 and Beijing Olympics 2008 then failed to win a single medal for Pakistan, though a few have pinned high hopes that the Pakistani squad representing the country in the ongoing London 2012 Olympics might salvage the lost pride of the country and save its blushes after having had four terrible medal-less events in a row.

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