Hockey was introduced in India in 1885 by the British army and it quickly gained popularity amongst the Indian masses who took to the game like a fish takes to water, and it became so popular that hockey was named India’s national sport after independence in 1947.
The Indian hockey team has been one of the most successful teams in international field hockey, enjoying an unequalled winning streak in the Olympic Games where they dominated the event from 1928 to 1956, winning the gold at each Olympic event in that period. It is a winning streak record that stands to this day and no other team has come close to matching it. In total the Indian hockey team have 8 gold medals, 1 silver and 2 bronze in the Olympics, along with a host of other first place finishes in numerous other international sporting events.
A massive blow to the morale of the team and to Indian hockey in general came in the qualifying round of the 2008 Beijing Olympics which were being held in Argentina. India lost to Britain which translated to them being knocked out of the main event to be held in Beijing. It was the Indian hockey team’s first absence from an Olympic event in 80 years.
The defeat however only served to strengthen the team’s resolve to win back their lost face in the next Olympics. Four years of intense training and superhuman efforts by each and every team member, coach, nutritionist and even the grounds man helped to shape the outcome of the hockey event at the 2012 London Olympics.
Breezing through the various qualifiers and intermediate matches, the Indians faced off against France in the finals where the former won by a ridiculously wide margin. The Indian team scored 8 goals and conceded only one to the French, winning by the widest margin in hockey on Olympic record and thus claimed their rightful place on the throne as the kings of international hockey.
Apart from being the most successful hockey team in Olympic history thanks to the numerous victories to its credit, the Indian hockey team has several other outstanding achievements in the international circuit. The team won gold at the 1966 and 1998 Asian Games held in Bangkok, Thailand and were twice the champions at the Asia Cup, once in 2003 and again in 2007. Additionally, they emerged champions five times in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup held in Malaysia, and all of these accomplishments and quite a few more have helped them become the first non-European team to feature in the International Hockey Federation.