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Indian hockey falls from grace

india Updated: Mar 10, 2008 12:54 IST

PTI
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Indian hockey touched its nadir on Monday with the eight-time gold medallists, for the first time, failing to make the Olympic cut in complete contrast to its glorious past.

Since its debut in the quadrennial sporting extravaganza in 1928, India remained unbeaten in the Olympic Games till 1956, winning six gold medals in a row.

It's not only medals that they won. The mesmerising stick work and the frequent dodge saw the basic dribble skill being named 'Indian dribble' after their exploit in the 1956 Olympics.

The golden streak, however, was finally snapped in 1960 when arch-rivals Pakistan beat India 1-0 in the Rome Olympic final and Leslie Claudius' team had to settle for the Silver.

India bounced back to claim the Gold again in the subsequent Olympic Games in Tokyo but the aura was wearing thin and they finished with Bronze both in 1968 and 1972.

Things turned even worse and in 1976, India, having finished a dismal seventh, returned empty-handed from Montreal for the first time in Olympic's history.

V Bhaskaran managed to lead his side to the Olympic gold in 1980 Moscow Olympics but the achievement lost much of its sheen with European powerhouses like Germany, Holland and Great Britain boycotting the event.

Since then, it has been a steady decline and India's worst fear came true today with the side failing to qualify for the quadrennial event they dominated for so long in the past.