|From 'Story of the Olympics'
By Melville de Mellow
or every Indian in Tokyo in 1964 - athlete, player, commentator or spectator - the Tokyo Games was not an event to be remembered, but an emotion. For it was in this big-hearted city that we won back the world hockey crown from Pakistan, which we had lost to them in Rome four years earlier.
The venue for this battle of hockey giants was ground number one in Komazawa Park, a 4.5 billion yen park that took three years to build. The proscenium for this battlefield consisted of beautiful trees - gingko, zelkovo, willow, camphor, pasania, plum and cherry.
It was chrysanthemum time in Japan, and the air was heavy with its heady scent. There were 3,000 metres of flower beds between the trees. But on that chilly afternoon in Komazawa, the 22 determined men who took the field made soggy by persistent rain were not interested in chrysanthemums. They were joining battle for 11 gold medals, nay, more than that, for national prestige in Olympic hockey.
India 1 - Pakistan 0
It was a wet, depressing, cloudy, raw day, but the rain stopped just before the big match. Flashpoint came early after the opening bully. The game was held up as judges, coaches and managers rushed on to the field to pacify the players.
Thereafter, both teams settled down to good, clean, fast hockey, and thrills came a plenty. Under the gaze of thousands of wildly cheering people, including many Indians and Pakistanis, the two hockey giants tried every tactic and manoeuvre to score the first precious goal.
At half-time, neither team had scored. Both teams crossed over on equal terms, though India had a slight edge in the exchanges.
Five uneventful minutes of play in the second half had ended when Darshan Singh swept in from the left wing to pick up a glorious through pass. He was about to convert when he was obstructed by Pakistan's Atif. The whistle shrilled for a penalty corner.
It was pushed by V. J. Peter, stopped dead by Charanjeet Kumar, and Prithipal Singh connected with a bullet-like shot that glanced over the goalkeeper's pads. The ball was almost over the line when Munir Dar intercepted the ball with his foot.
The whistle shrilled again! This time the award was rightly a penalty stroke for what would have been a certain goal.
Up came Mohinder Lal. There was pin-drop silence on the ground, the tension stretched. Just two people played out this drama - Mohinder Lal and pint-sized Hamid, the Pakistani goalkeeper.
Mohinder crouched and then gave the deadly push which he had brought off so successfully in the tournament. The ball rifled the net, Hamid was beaten all ends up. He was so surprised that that he hardly moved. The crowd exploded in applause. India was one up, and that's how the game would end.
As the days and months and years go by, many of the details of this game would have been forgotten - the shots that shaved the post on the wrong side, the wasted penalty corners, the frayed tempers and the off-sides. All will be blurred by time. People will only remember the score: one-love!
India's Honour Regained
For those of us who were there, that one goal represents the greatest emotional experience of the Tokyo Olympics. Behind that score - that one goal - stood 11 men who played the game of their lives for the honour of their country and the glory of sport.
All played brilliant hockey, but as always, some were superb. Prithipal Singh, who scored 11 of India's 22 goals in the tournament, will be remembered particularly, for he was like the Rock of Gibraltar.
Peter, Joginder and Mohinder will be remembered for their perfect understanding and unselfish short-passing, which broke through the Pakistani defence time and again to open up the game; Charanjeet, for his great game and captaincy, and custodian Lakshman for his quick eye and his eagle-like anticipation, his blocking and clearing, and his verve, polish and experience of many a battle. Lakshman's confidence was the death-knell of Pakistan's hopes for an equaliser, let alone a victory.
Thus India effaced the defeat in the Rome Olympics in 1960, and also the defeat suffered in the Tokyo Asiad of 1958, when India lost to Pakistan on goal average.
In their match against Pakistan, India never lost their grip on the game and were prepared for any form of attack - subtle, robust or otherwise. Unforgettable was the applause that broke loose when both umpires blew simultaneously for full-time. The match was over.
Flash-bulbs flared and the Indian tricolour crept slowly up to the masthead in a victory ceremony watched by tear-filled eyes. As the last notes of 'Jana Gana Mana' faded away, a storm of celebration exploded about our players.
Indians danced the bhangra, our players hugged the Australians, who had earlier won the bronze medal, and exchanged track-suits with them.
Charanjeet presented a lucky hockey stick to a Japanese school for its museum. A young Japanese youth ran on to the field, embraced Charanjeet, kissed his gold medal three times, danced a jig and vanished into the crowd.
So victory came to the eleven most modest men of the Tokyo Olympics. During the tournament, they were never boastful but quietly confident and sternly determined. After the victory, they were more modest still. This added to their popularity, because it is one thing to win, and quite another to win gracefully and with compassion.
So came the end of these fabulous Games. The cannons fired, the strains of 'Auld Lang Syne' thundered, wave on wave, verse on verse. Brightly burning torches borne by girl students circled the track, as a huge Sayonara flashed from the electronic result board.
An explosion rent the air. Almost simultaneously, the skies burst into spectacular colour. Waterfalls of red, blue, green, violet, gold and silver were suddenly visible. Swirling in the night sky, they met high over National Stadium and fell in multi-hued showers of colour and light in full view of 100,000 enchanted spectators.
The solemn climax of the closing ceremony was over. We sat with our thoughts. Out of the recesses of my mind, a few words tumbled out, throwing themselves into a quote from Virgil's Aenas: "Many of these things I saw, and some of them I was."
I knew at that instant that there would never anything like this again, because there is only Tokyo in all the world, just as there is only one beautiful musical way to say goodbye - Sayonara!