The Indian Olympic Association came into being in 1927, a year after the formation of the Indian Hockey Association, later renamed as the Indian Hockey Federation. The official entry in the Olympic arena took place in 1928 Amsterdom. Indian hockey created history by winning the gold medal on debut. The previous two-time winners England, though took part in the Olympics, did not include a hockey team. England did not enter the Olympic hockey fields not untill the Great Britain Olympic Board was formalised in 1948. Till then England did not recognise FIH. Inbetween, India had won two more golds at Los Angeles and Berlin editions. The 1936 Olympic gold was obtained against a solid opposition from the host Germany.
At London in 1948, Kishen lal led India retained the gold, defeating the Great Britain at its own backyards. The next edition too was no different for the gifted Indians, only the finalist Great Britain was replaced by Holland, finalist of the 1928 Amsterdom edition. Prompted by the scoring prowess of Balbir Singh India again came first at Helsinki. At Mel-bourne in 1956, India's road to success was not that rosy as it was so far. It had to labour a lot before retaining the title for the sixth time at the expenses of emerging power Pakistan.
At Rome where Milkha Singh disappointed Indians, hockey too cut a sorry figure. Helped by a lone goal from the stick of Naseer Bunda, Pakistan snatched the gold, its first. India put in a lot of efforts in the next four years which paid dividends at Tokyo, Aisa's first Olympics. At Number One Kamazowa Park, mid-fielder Charanjit led India to victory podium, India's seventh gold.
Australia doused the Indian fire at the the 1968 Mexico Olympics in the semif-final. India had to be content with the bronze. In the next edition too, India tumbled at the semi-final hurdle. This time Pakistan posted a fluent 2-0 victory over the arch rival India before it grabbed the gold. When hockey was played on the synthetic surface for the first time at Montreal, it was again Australia that dashed Indian hopes in a play-off for the semi-final slot. Disappointed India came seventh, its lowest ranking.
The 1980 Moscow Olympics was marred by the West-led boycott. Nine out of eleven nations that were seen in action in the previous Olympics stayed away. Still India had to sweat a lot in getting its eighth gold, defeating the fighting Spain 4-3 in the final. Md. Shahid scored the India's fourth goal. India was distinctly unluckly not to qualify for the semi-final at Los Angeles in 1984, in the same city where in 1932 it created records after records. Germany and India tied on points after the league matches were over. Germany entered the semi-final as it had a better goal-average. At Seoul, again the semi-final berth eluded India by a proverbial whisker. India needed a draw to enter the knock-out stage whereas an outright victory was needed for Great Britain. India failed in the crucial match, losing to Great Britain 0-3.
After those two so-ner-yet-so-far incidents, India did not show much in the Olympic arenas. 1992 Barcelona was a great disappointment, again India ending the campaign at seventh rank. In 1996, the team trained by Cedric D'Souza, fared still worse. At one stage it needed a victory over either Germany or Pakistan to reach the semi-final, but India could only draw both. Ultimately, India ended at eighth rank. India put up a sterling show in the league at the next Olympics at Sydney. However, when needed a win or draw with two goals in its favour against Poland, its last rival in the league, India could only post a 1-1 draw and with that their dream run ended anti-climax. india did not recover from the shock and last the remaining two classification matches also. 2004 Athens was no different. Except South Africa, India could not gain three points against any rivals in the league, still was fortunate to play for 5-8 classification. It did not avail this god send opportunity, going down to Pakistan 0-3.
Thus, India struggles to reach the semis, and the story continues. Last time it was there in the semis was way back in 1972. 40 years is a big period.