Pakistan’s hockey campaign at the 1960 Rome Olympics was probably its best to date. They topped their group unbeaten and beat Germany 2-1 in the quarters, Spain 1-0 in the semis to set up a title clash with arch rivals India. The encounter saw Pakistan win through Naseer ‘Bunda’ Ahmed’s lone goal, thus ending India’s dominance dating back to 1928.
The Rome Games also saw another hero emerge in Pakistan colours, and though his achievement was buried deep underneath the tributes to the hockey team, wrestler Mohammad Bashir’s bronze medal remains the only one to date that the country has won in wrestling at the world’s most prestigious sporting event.
The gold medal match at the Tokyo Olympics witnessed some typically fast and furious hockey with Pakistan dominating rivals India in the first part of the match. In a game that epitomised the traditional flair of the subcontinent teams, the Indians eventually triumphed 1-0 through Mohinder Lal’s penalty-stroke.
The high altitude of Mexico City tested all athletes and wreaked havoc on some Olympic events and record. But Pakistan hockey team’s resolved remained strong and they would go onto to reclaim the crown that they lost to India at the previous games. They beat Australia 2-1 in the final.
The Munich Games, marred by the vicious “Black September” terror group attacks, saw Pakistan lose out its hockey title to West Germany in the final. There was added drama at the end of the game which saw Pakistan lose to a scorline of 1-0. The Pakistani team, angered by what they thought were bad umpiring decisions, refused to accept their silver medal at first but reluctantly took to the podium after being pushed by officials.
New Zealand came onto the scene with a gold-medal performance, Australia claimed silver, and Pakistan rounded out the medalists. India was notably absent from the podium for the first time in over 50 years. In the bronze-medal match Pakistan scored a hard-earned 3-2 victory over Holland.
Los Angeles played host to 12 men’s and six women’s teams, with Pakistan, West Germany and Great Britain the top three on the men’s side of the bracket. Pakistan won the match 2-1 with all three goals coming through penalty-corners. Hassan Sardar and Kaleemullah scored for the Greenshirts in what was described by experts as the ‘toughest’ Olympic finals.
Seoul was the setting that saw that Pakistani boxers recognised on the biggest stage. Hussain Shah won bronze in the middle-weight division, and thanks to his effort Pakistan at least made it on the medals table in what was a barren Olympic Games for the country. The then 24-year-old received a warm welcome upon his return to the country after fulfilling his “personal ambition” but was soon forgotten by officials and fans alike.
The Olympics in Barcelona were free of boycotting countries for the first time in 20 years. A post-Berlin Wall Germany was unified, and took men’s gold and women’s silver. Australia finished with silver. Pakistan took bronze after losing its semi-final to a spirited German side. It was the last time Pakistan won a medal at the Games.