With less than 30 days to go for the Tokyo Olympic Games, the Olympic fever is engulfing the entire sporting world. While the Indian athletes carry out their high-octane practice sessions, the hockey fans are reliving the memories from the triumphant Olympic campaigns in the past.
The fiery centre-forward BP Govinda went on a nostalgic trip, fondly talking of his hay days as an iconic figure with a distinctive headband. “Our coach KD Singh Babu made me play as outside-left in the Bronze Medal match against the Netherlands,” recalled the stylish striker in the fifth article of Hockey India’s Flashback Series
“All through the tournament in Munich, I had played as centre-forward, but our coach insisted I change my position for this match, and it so happened that I scored the equaliser and then Mukhbain Singh scored the winning goal through a penalty corner which helped us win the match 2-1,” he added. Having won a bronze medal in 1968, India had fielded a young team in Munich which saw stalwarts like Michael Kindo, Ashok Kumar Dhyanchand, and BP Govinda make their Olympic debut. But the campaign didn’t go as expected despite a good start against teams like the Netherlands (1-1 draw), Great Britain (5-0 win), Australia (3-1 win), Poland (2-2 draw), and Mexico (8-0 win).
India had also beaten New Zealand 3-2 to make the cut for the semi-final. “But we lost 0-2 in that match. I think we played particularly well in the second half. Almost the entire 35 minutes, we were in their D and we were attacking with all our might, but it was so disheartening that we couldn’t convert a single goal. All our shots would go near the goal mouth, and we would miss. It was like as though we were jinxed,” explained Govinda.Speaking of the current Indian hockey team led by Manpreet Singh, Govinda said, “They have been playing consistently in the past two years, and they have shown a lot of promise. But my advice to them is to take it match-by-match and their first aim should be to make the quarterfinals. I would say, once they have crossed that hurdle, it is anybody’s game in the semis and final.”
“This team has been doing well under Graham and has shown that they are capable of beating big teams like Australia, Netherlands, Belgium, and even the Olympic Champions Argentina. I have no doubt that they can perform well in Tokyo,” he added.