Post London debacle, 2012 raised new hopes for Indian hockey


The bottom-place finish in the London Olympics marked the lowest ebb of the year for Indian hockey, but 2012 ended with a lot of promise and hope for the erstwhile kings of the game.

The national game, until an RTI application revealed that India had none, endured a roller-coaster of a ride over the past 12 months.

After a positive start to the year in the Olympic qualifiers at home, the eight-time Olympic champions came up with their worst-ever showing in the quadrennial event in London.

A young team under Michael Nobbs, though, infused some life back into the sport riding on its impressive outings in the FIH Champions Trophy in Melbourne and the Asian Champions Trophy in Doha.

After their disastrous Olympic campaign, the fourth-place finish in the prestigious Champions Trophy and the second spot in the Asian Champions Trophy came as a soothing balm for Indian hockey, which is slowly and steadily trying to get its footing back at the international level.

But their nightmarish campaign at the Olympics, six successive defeats, will always remain as the talked-about topic of the year.

If failing to qualify for the 2008 Beijing Olympics was a heartbreak, the London Games turned out to be a major humiliation for the players and administrators of the game, which plunged into depths of despair.

The fact which hurt India most was that London was the venue where the country won its first of the eight Olympic gold medals in 1948.

Post London, heads were expected to roll and it didn't come as a surprise when the national selectors gave the boot to a host of senior players, including skipper Bharat Chettri and ace drag-flicker Sandeep Singh, and instead decided to build a team for the future.

An inspirational Sardar Singh turned out to be just the man to lead a young Indian team which to got some belief back.

... contd.

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