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75 years of independence: Iconic moments from Indian sports – Indian hockey team wins last gold at 1980 Moscow Olympics

India will complete 75 years of Independence this year. Here is a series acknowledging greatest sporting achievements by Indian athletes.

India’s last Olympic Hockey Gold at the 1980 Moscow Games

India produced a relatively youthful but skilled team for the Moscow Games after a turbulent era following the hockey disaster at the 1976 Montreal Olympics, and all save captain Vasudevan Baskaran and goalkeeper Bir Bahadur Chhetri made their Olympic debuts.

The U.S.-led boycott of the Games over Russia’s role in Afghanistan, however, damaged them.

The medalists from the previous Games, New Zealand, Australia, and Pakistan, together with European powerhouses West Germany and Holland, were therefore absent from the men’s hockey field, which consisted of just six teams. India winning the gold medal was therefore inevitable.

India’s campaign

In the league phase, the Indians drew 2-2 with both Poland and Spain while thrashing a weak Tanzania 18-0, Cuba 13-0, and Russia 4-2 to advance to the championship game.

Spain put on a battle, forcing India to work hard for the gold. India won 4-3 thanks to goals from Surinder Singh Sodhi (2), Mohd Shahid, and M.K. Kaushik.

Few gave India’s gold medal, which they won after a 16-year absence, any significance because the best teams withdrew from the competition. However, the victory served to calm the crowd and bring back some dignity to Indian hockey, whose decline was at least momentarily stopped.


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