When Pakistan snatched hockey gold from India at Rome Olympics

In 1960, Pakistan defeated India in the hockey finals at the Rome Olympics. With that ended India’s unbroken golden run at six Olympics over 32 years:

  1. In 1928, at Amsterdam, against Netherlands
  2. In 1932, at Los Angeles, against Japan
  3. In 1936, at Berlin, against Germany
  4. In 1948, at London, against Great Britain
  5. In 1952, at Helsinki, against Netherlands
  6. In 1956, at Melbourne, against Pakistan

(The Games were not held in 1940 and 1944 because of World War-II)

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India lost to Pakistan by just one goal; the only goal of the match. Losing 0-5 to Great Britain wouldn’t have hurt so much, but that one goal stung and singed and tortured the nation terribly.

There were wild celebrations across the border, of course. At the end of the match, the officer-in-charge of the Pakistan team was said to have telegrammed home the message: “The job has been done.”

THE. JOB. HAS. BEEN. DONE.

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That rumoured message was like another twist of the knife between the ribs. Many Indian MPs didn’t like it when education minister Dr K L Shrimali sent a congratulatory message to his Pakistan counterpart for form’s sake.

“Please accept congratulations on well-merited victory of Pakistan Hockey Team in Olympic Championship final,” Shrimali wrote. “It would have been ungracious on our part not to have sent this message,” he told Parliament, but other MPs feared Pakistan would mock India in reply, or insult with silence.

“Please accept congratulations on well-merited victory of Pakistan Hockey Team in Olympic Championship final.”

“Thanks for your congratulation for Pakistan Hockey team success. We greatly appreciate your message.”

However, the Pakistanis were civil too. “Thanks for your congratulation for Pakistan Hockey team success. We greatly appreciate your message,” their minister wrote back.

Just as it happens now that groups of students in Aligarh and Kashmir celebrate Pakistan’s victory over India, there was a call for a holiday in Aligarh University to celebrate Pakistan’s Rome win. Like every such brouhaha it also died out soon.

 

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