Pakistan’s Olympic medals: Hockey team’s domination is clear

Pakistan have won 10 medals at the Summer Olympics since the 1948 edition. Only two of these are individual medals.

6 min By Ali Asgar Nalwala
Pakistan hockey team at Rome 1960 Olympics.
(Picture by Getty Images)

Pakistan, formed in 1947, featured in their first-ever Olympics at the London 1948 Summer Games. However, it took the country eight years to win its first Olympic medal at the quadrennial showpiece event.

Here’s a run-through of Pakistan’s Olympic medals.

Pakistan hockey men’s team, silver medal - Melbourne 1956

After fourth-place finishes at the 1948 and 1952 Olympic Games, the Pakistan men’s hockey team, arrived in Australia led by the legendary Abdul Hameed and senior pros in Akhtar Hussain and Latif-ur Rehman, who were part of India’s 1948 Olympic gold-winning team.

Despite several players playing barefooted, Pakistan managed to produce satisfactory performances in the group stages. The Green Shirts topped Group C and defeated Great Britain 3-2 in the semi-final to set up a clash against a star-studded India in the final.

Pakistan matched India stride by stride in their first meeting on the global stage. However, India, led by captain Balbir Singh Sr, struck through Randhir Singh Gentle in the opening two minutes of the second half to race ahead in the final.

India hung on to their lead and eventually completed their second hat-trick of gold medals at the Olympics. The final also marked the beginning of the storied India vs Pakistan hockey rivalry.

Pakistan hockey men’s team, gold medal - Rome 1960

With Pakistan hockey firmly on the rise, India’s task was cut out to retain the Olympic title.

“We had undergone rigorous three to four months training in the camp at Lahore where the morale of players was very high and the slogan ‘Victory at Rome’ was written all over the walls of our bedrooms and elsewhere which infused a fighting spirit among the players,” recalled Abdul Waheed Khan, a member of the Pakistan hockey team.

Pakistan enjoyed a good run to the final at Rome 1960. Having topped Group B, Pakistan beat Germany 2-1 and Spain 1-0 in the knockouts to set up a repeat of the 1956 final with arch-rivals India.

With eight of the 11 players having played in the previous Olympic final, an experienced Pakistan side ended India’s domination to clinch the gold medal for the first time in Olympic history. While skipper Abdul Hameed top-scored for Pakistan in the group stages with eight goals, Naseer Ahmad Bunda scored in the final.

Mohammad Bashir, bronze medal - men’s 73kg wrestling - Rome 1960

Freestyle wrestler Mohammad Bashir was the first Pakistani to win an individual Olympic medal. He bagged a bronze in the 73kg weight division at Rome 1960 to help Pakistan achieve their best-ever result at the Olympics after they finished with two medals.

Pakistan hockey men’s team, silver medal - Tokyo 1964

Pakistan was the only team to win all their six group matches at the Tokyo 1964 Olympics. They defeated Spain 3-0 in the semis to punch their tickets for the third consecutive final against India.

Pakistan came into the Tokyo 1964 Olympics final having won all their matches.
Pakistan came into the Tokyo 1964 Olympics final having won all their matches. (Getty Images)

Deploying a rough approach that worked well for them in the 1962 Asian Games final against India, Pakistan failed to capitalise on a series of penalty corners and lost the Tokyo 1964 Olympics final 1-0. Mohinder Lal’s penalty stroke remained the only goal of the match.

Pakistan hockey men’s team, gold medal - Mexico City 1968

Now a powerhouse in the world of hockey, Pakistan romped through their group stages and defeated Germany 2-1 in the semi-final.

Pakistan, led by left fullback Tariq Aziz, met Australia in the final. The Australian hockey team had beaten India 2-0 in the other semi-final.

Pakistan clinched the gold medal after defeating Australia 2-1 in the final of the Mexico City 1968 Olympics. Centreforward Rasheed Jr and Asad Malik netted a goal apiece.

Pakistan hockey men’s team, silver medal - Munich 1972

Pakistan hockey was at its peak at the Munich 1972 Olympics. After beating India 2-0 in the semis, Pakistan faced hosts Germany in the final, which was marred by controversy.

The umpires had to stop play several times after Michael Krause's goal gave Germany a 1-0 lead in the 60th minute.

Pakistani players and officials protested and asked the umpires to disallow the goal. When their request was turned down, the Pakistan players turned their backs on the West German flag during the medal ceremony and also refused to wear silver medals.

As a result, 11 Pakistani players were banned for two years from their national team.

Pakistan hockey men’s team, bronze medal - Montreal 1976

It was the first time that field hockey at the Olympics was played on artificial turf. Incidentally, it was also the first time the Pakistan men’s hockey team failed to make it to the final at the Olympics in 20 years.

After dominating the group stages, the Green Shirts suffered a setback by losing to Australia 2-1 in the semi-finals. Pakistan, however, finished third by defeating the Netherlands 3-2 in the bronze medal playoff.

Pakistan hockey men’s team, gold medal - Los Angeles 1984

After pulling out from the 1980 Olympics in Moscow, the reigning world champions Pakistan entered the 1984 Games in a bid to regain the title after 12 years.

However, Pakistan, led by Manzoor Junior, managed to win just two from the five group games and had to scrape past Australia 1-0 to progress to the semi-finals. Hassan Sardar, one of Pakistan’s greatest forwards, struck the winner in the 22nd minute.

Hassan Sardar was once again at the forefront to help Pakistan take a lead in the LA 1984 Olympics final against Germany**.** Pakistan won the match 2-1 for their third and last Olympic gold medal.

Hussain Shah, bronze medal - men’s middleweight boxing - Seoul 1988

Karachi boxer Syed Hussain Shah bagged the country’s only second individual Olympic medal and first in boxing at Seoul 1988 Olympics**.** Shah won the bronze medal in boxing in the middleweight category.

Pakistan hockey men’s team, bronze medal - Barcelona 1992

After being stunned by Australia and the Netherlands in the 1988 group stages, the Pakistan team made a strong comeback by winning all its five group stage matches at the Barcelona 1992 Olympics.

The team, however, was unable to translate the form in the semi-finals and lost to Germany 2-1 in the semis. Pakistan defeated the Netherlands in the bronze playoff 4-3 to clinch their last medal at the Olympics.

Pakistan Olympic medal winners list

Pakistan's Olympic medals
Pakistan hockey teamSilverMen’s hockeyMelbourne 1956
Pakistan hockey teamGoldMen’s hockeyRome 1960
Mohammad BashirBronzeMen’s 73kg wrestlingRome 1960
Pakistan hockey teamSilverMen’s hockeyTokyo 1964
Pakistan hockey teamGoldMen’s hockeyMexico City 1968
Pakistan hockey teamSilverMen’s hockeyMunich 1972
Pakistan hockey teamBronzeMen’s hockeyMontreal 1976
Pakistan hockey teamGoldMen’s hockeyLos Angeles 1984
Hussain ShahBronzeMen’s middleweight boxingSeoul 1988
Pakistan hockey teamBronzeMen’s hockeyBarcelona 1992

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