Pakistan hockey squad members who won gold medal at Rome Olympics in 1960. After division of British India in 1947, new country Pakistan first participated at the Olympic Games in 1948 in London, and has sent athletes to compete in every Summer Olympic Games since then, except when they participated in the American-led boycott of the 1980 Summer Olympics in Soviet Union. Pakistan athletes have won a total of ten medals, all at the Summer Olympics with eight of those in men’s field hockey. In 1996 Atlanta Summer Olympics, Pakistan’s Syed Hadi Haider Naqvi did pick up a bronze medal in the demonstration sport of taekwondo, but as the sport was not given full status then, the medal was not recognized in the official tally. Pakistan has won two individual medals in the Olympics to date, both bronze medals: one in wrestling in Rome 1960 and one in boxing in Seoul 1988. Rome 1960 has been the most successful Olympics for Pakistan so far, with Pakistan winning two medals: a gold medal in field hockey and a bronze medal in wrestling. Pakistan’s first ever participation in the Winter Olympic Games was at the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics when Mohammad Abbas became Pakistan’s first athlete to qualify in the Alpine Skiing (Giant Slalom) category. Pakistan also participated in 2014 Sochi and 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics but was not able to win any medal. Pakistan has not won a single medal at the Olympic Games since 1992 Barcelona. Pakistan hockey did not qualify for Rio de Janeiro 2016 and Tokyo Olympics 2020. Under Hamidi’s able captaincy, Pakistan won silver medal at the 1956 Olympics losing to India by a controversial goal in the final. Still, it was an epoch-making moment in the country’s sporting history as it was Pakistan’s first ever medal of any colour in any Olympic discipline. Then, in 1958, Hamidi led Pakistan to gold medal at the Asian Games. It was the first time that India was relegated to second position in any international hockey tournament. And finally Hamidi attained eternal legend status by skippering Pakistan to their maiden Olympic gold in 1960 The first Olympic gold in Rome: Pakistan’s first-ever international hockey team, who had the honour of participating in the 1948 Olympics, included a youngster. His name was Abdul Hameed, better known as Hamidi. Born in Khyber Paktunkhaw’s southern town Bannu in 1927, when Hamidi grew up, hockey was the greatest passion not only in his town but also at home. Waziri Club, one of the most prominent local hockey outfits, was run by his family. Many of his relatives played for the club. Waziri Club’s local derby match with the Giants Club attracted a crowd of around 7000, out of Bannu’s total population of 125,000. Then his Islamia High School had a great rivalry with the Government High School. There again, thousands turned up with Muslims supporting Islamia HS and Hindus cheering Government HS. The atmosphere couldn’t have been better. Hamidi played at the inside right position throughout his career. After school, Hamidi distinguished himself in the board tournaments for strong outfits of Gordon College, Rawalpindi, and Islamia College, Peshawar. He came from a well-educated family, and got admission into the prestigious King Edward Medical College, Lahore. But he left the college after two years for the love of hockey. During these two years, he helped the college reach the final of the Punjab University Championships — a rare achievement. During all these years, Hamidi had been appearing for Bannu’s clubs in various all-India tournaments. The crowning achievement was winning the famous Obaidullah tournament in Bhopal in 1946. After Independence, Hamidi joined Pakistan Army and there his game further flourished. An outstanding inside-right, Hamidi, who rose to the rank of Brigadier in the Pakistan Army, was not only a schemer but also a tremendous scorer. He was a member of both the 1948 and 1952 Olympics teams. But these teams, despite having several outstanding players, could only finish fourth. The main reason of the failure was a lack of harmony and discipline. Hamidi was then made the captain of the team in 1956 and he didn’t disappoint — the army officer inculcated much-needed discipline and spirit in the team. Under Hamidi’s able captaincy, Pakistan won silver medal at the 1956 Olympics losing to India by a controversial goal in the final. Still, it was an epoch-making moment in the country’s sporting history as it was Pakistan’s first ever medal of any colour in any Olympic discipline. Then, in 1958, Hamidi led Pakistan to gold medal at the Asian Games. It was the first time that India was relegated to second position in any international hockey tournament. And finally Hamidi attained eternal legend status by skippering Pakistan to their maiden Olympic gold in 1960. The final of the 1960 Rome Olympics is still regarded as one of the finest moments in Pakistan sports history. That’s when Pakistan came head-to- head against their archrivals India for the second time in the Olympic history. But unlike the first meeting in the 1956 Melbourne Olympics, Pakistan were not ready to settle for silver. Under brilliant leadership of Hamidi, Pakistan ended India’s 30-year dominance in hockey on September 9, 1960. With so much to prove, they went into the final to defeat India 1-0 with Naseer Bunda’s timeless goal – shocking the world champions of more than three decades, who lost to the underdogs. The common thread in the Rome Olympics gold was captain Hamidi. That man had waited for four Olympics since 1948 to win the gold. A formidable captain and a tactical genius who led Pakistan by example, Hamidi is still the only player to captain Pakistan twice in the Olympics: 1956 and 1960. Watching his game in Rome, the famous English hockey journalist R.I. Holland paid tribute to Hamidi by calling him “the most constructive forward in the world.” Hamidi’s tally of 16 Olympic goals remained a Pakistan record till 2008 when penalty corner specialist Sohail Abbas surpassed it. Even after his retirement from professional hockey, Hamidi managed the Pakistan team on quite a few occasions, including the 1966 and 1970 Asian Games with Pakistan winning silver and gold medals, respectively. His last stint as manager was the 1973 World Cup, where Hamidi was handicapped since he was overseeing a second-string side. The Pakistan team who had participated in the 1972 Olympics were banned by the International Hockey Federation (FIH) for inappropriate behaviour after their defeat in the controversy-marred final against the hosts West Germany. And yet, it goes to Hamidi and his team’s credit that Pakistan still managed to finish fourth at the 1973 World Cup. Hamidi’s last role was as the Secretary General of the Pakistan Hockey Federation. He assumed the post when the country’s hockey was at the lowest ebb till then. Pakistan had slumped to their worst positions in the World Cup and the Olympics. They ended 11th at the 1986 World Cup and finished fifth at the 1988 Olympics. Then began a revival under Hamidi’s watchful gaze. Pakistan regained some of their lost prestige by finishing as the runners-up in the 1990 World Cup, superbly hosted in Lahore by Hamidi’s PHF, and then by winning the bronze at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona. In addition, Pakistan regained the Asian Games title apart from retaining the Asia Cup. Without Hamidi, the story of Pakistan hockey is incomplete. He served the game in almost every possible capacity: player, captain, manager of the team, and secretary of the PHF. At all times, Hamidi brought hope with him. The national hero passed away on 11th July 2019, aged 92.