GOLDEN OLYMPIC MOMENTS
- 9 teams from the 1976 Montreal Olympic hockey competition did not compete in the 1980
hockey tournament. The boycotting teams included the top 3 teams at
Montreal - New Zealand (gold), Australia (silver) and Pakistan (bronze). European
hockey powerhouses Germany, Holland and Great Britain also did not compete
in this US-led boycott of the 1980 Olympic Games.
- The Moscow Olympics hockey competition was played on poligras fields laid
at the Dynamo and Young Pioneers clubs. The synthetic pitches did not have
automatic sprinklers. When the pitches had to be watered, it was by lorries
with hoses fixed to their bonnets.
- In a greatly weakened field of participants, India thrashed last minute
entry Tanzania 18-0 in its first match. In one purple patch, India found the
net 5 times in as many minutes. This huge victory over Tanzania was the
second biggest score in Olympic hockey, after the 24-1 victory by India over
USA in the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics.
- India was lucky to get away with a 2-2 draw with Poland in the next game,
with Merwyn Fernandes equalising for India with only 5 seconds to spare.
India had another lucky 2-2 draw with Spain, with the equaliser coming in
the last 4 minutes. After surviving these hiccups, India beat Cuba 13-0 and
hosts USSR 4-2 to come second in the pool (behind Spain) and qualify for the
- In the final against Spain, India had a rousing start and established a
comfortable three goal lead early in the second half. But Spain gamely bounced back into the game
with 2 unanswered goals. With Spain raiding the Indian defence, and with
only 6 minutes left, Mohammed Shaheed scored a goal to give more breathing
room to India.
- However, with only 4 minutes remaining, Spain scored yet again with their skipper
Juan Amat completing his hat-trick. The atmosphere in the last few minutes
was electric, and India finally won the thriller 4-3, and thus regained the elusive gold after 16 long
years. Spain had to be content with the Fairplay Trophy.
- Those were the days before satellite television had invaded India. Fans
faithfully followed the game on Akashvani, and this golden victory was the top story in the
Doordarshan bulletin that night.
- The 16 goals scored by centre-forward Surinder Singh Sodhi in the 1980 Moscow Olympics is the highest
tally by an Indian in an Olympic hockey competition. It beat the earlier record
of 15 goals set by the great Udham Singh in the 1956 Melbourne Olympics.
- Hockey proved very popular with the fans in Moscow. There were attendance
figures of 10,000 or more at nearly every game. A total of 177,880 paying
spectators watched the hockey matches. This made hockey the 6th most watched
event at the Moscow Olympics.
- For the generation of Indians born after
the mid-1960s, the Moscow Olympics hockey title remains their only link to India's
golden Olympic past.
- India's record in the 1980 Olympics at Moscow was as follows :
- Played: 6
- Won: 4
- Drawn: 2
- Goals For: 43
- Goals Against: 9
- The following were the members of the 1980 Indian Olympic Team :
- Vasudevan Bhaskaran (captain)
- Allen Schofield (goalkeeper)
- Bir Bahadur Chhetri
- Sylvanus Dung Dung
- Rajinder Singh
- Davinder Singh
- Gurmail Singh
- Ravinder Pal Singh
- Sommayya Maneypande
- Maharaj Krishan Kaushik
- Charanjit Kumar
- Merwyn Fernandes
- Amarjit Singh Rana
- Mohammed Shahid
- Zafar Iqbal
- Surinder Singh Sodhi
Photo Courtesy Wills Book of Excellence - Olympics