Statistics are the real barometer to determine the graph of a team or individual in sports. It speaks itself and help in evaluating the ratings.
Pakistan’s graph in hockey has fallen drastically, particularly, after the introduction of synthetic surface or astroturf by the International Hockey Federation (FIH) at the Montreal Olympics in 1976.
Pakistan have fetched three gold, three silver and two bronze medals since its coming into being of which a gold (1984) and two bronze (1976 and 1992) came during the last 36 years which indicates their inability to cope up with the fast surface.
The synthetic pitch which requires more endurance has also shortened the career of players who earlier used to survive up to four Olympics spanning 16 years on natural grass. However, there are exceptions.
Though hockey became a medal sport at the London Olympics in 1908, many might consider the statistics to be distorted during the early years. For example, Great Britain won gold and a bronze in 1908 and the USA won bronze without winning a match when there were only three entries in 1932.
British India had ruled the game for most part of four decades 1908-1948 which saw two interruptions during World War I and II. The Indians won three gold medals in 1928, 1932 and 1936 after Great Britain had won successive gold medals in 1908 and 1920.
The Allahabad-born Indian legend Dhyan Chand was member of the victorious Indian team on all the three occasions. His brother Roop Singh also represented India at the 1932 and 1936 Games.
The Indians figured on the victory podium thrice in succession after independence – at London in 1948, at Helsinki in 1952 and at Melbourne in 1956 – before Pakistan ended their run at Rome in 1960.
India recaptured the gold at Tokyo in 1964 but again Pakistan bounced back at Mexico to win gold in 1968. Barring two exceptions at Munich in 1972 and Montreal in 1976, it was a race between the sub-continental hockey giants and in Los Angeles in 1984, Pakistan captured their third Olympic gold.
However, since 1988 Germany, Netherlands, Australia and Great Britain have been claiming the Olympic hockey title. The Germans and the Dutch are the two teams after India to have successfully retained the Olympic hockey titles in the post World War era.
The Germans, who have successfully retained the title at London, are on top of the table having won three gold medals, two silver medals and a bronze medal since the introduction of astroturf.
Pakistan needs to start afresh in order to arrest the decline which could only be possible by effectively evolving a three-tier system and implementing Nur Khan’s theory of assuming two goals down while entering the field with a vigour.
Medal table for the post-World War II years starting 1948
But a more dramatic change has taken place since hockey entered the era of artificial surface at the 1976 Olympics.
The medals position after introduction of synthetic pitches by the FIH is as under: