Olympic Gold in Moscow ...a look back at an amazing feat

Discussion in 'Africa' started by justin-old, Aug 29, 2008.

  1. justin-old

    justin-old FHF Legend

    Oct 14, 2006
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    As one who played his best hockey in Rhodesia...now Zimbabwe.... I was fascinated to get this in an email.
    I hope some of you will be interested.

    From The Sunday Times
    May 11, 2008

    Caught in Time: Zimbabwe win hockey gold, 1980 Moscow Olympics
    Cathy Harris

    A balmy summer's morning in Moscow in 1980 turned into an unforgettable day
    in the history of the newly independent Zimbabwe. Liz Chase provided the
    pass and Pat McKillop scored the goal to seal a 4-1 victory over Austria as
    Zimbabwe wrote themselves into the record books as the first winners of the
    women's Olympic hockey gold medal. It was their first Olympic medal of any
    colour. Ann Grant, the captain, a 25-year-old bookkeeper from Harare, led
    her ecstatic side on to the podium to acknowledge the acclaim for an
    extraordinary triumph.

    Most western nations boycotted the Games in protest at the Soviet invasion
    of Afghanistan. With the best teams out of the tournament, including
    Holland, Germany and Australia, the organisers were forced to invite
    countries that would never have qualified. In the round-robin six-team
    format featuring the hosts, Poland, Austria, India and Czechoslovakia,
    Zimbabwe remained unbeaten.

    It was a fairy-tale ending for the new African nation, but it might never
    have happened. Grant, sister of Duncan Fletcher, the former England cricket
    coach, said the invitation to compete came out of the blue. "We weren't in
    training, didn't have a team and hadn't a clue what to expect." The squad
    included the nucleus of the side that had represented Rhodesia, the former
    name of the country before it emerged from civil war as Zimbabwe. Hurriedly
    assembled, the team flew to the Zambian capital, Lusaka, en route to Moscow
    in a plane normally used for transporting meat. "The stench was terrible,"
    recalled Grant. "There were no seats, so we all sat on the floor, strapped
    in and set off into the unknown. We didn't even have the right shoes to play
    on the artificial hockey surface."

    The fortnight in Moscow was crucial: the squad forging an indomitable team
    spirit as they set their sights on realising a dream. McKillop wrote herself
    into the history books by scoring the first goal in Olympic women's history.

    She was also the top scorer in the event. In the euphoria that followed,
    President Robert Mugabe's wife, Sally, promised every player an ox.

    Sandy Chick, whose identical twin, Sonia, was also in the side, said: "It
    took us a while to realise we'd won gold. Suddenly, everyone wanted a part
    of us - we were immensely proud. People wanted to know all about Zimbabwe
    and we were invited to a party at the Kremlin. We couldn't believe what a
    thrilling experience it was. There we were, chatting to Daley Thompson, Seb
    Coe and Steve Ovett - it was unreal."

    The Golden Girls returned to a huge welcome and were feted for months.
    However, the promised oxen failed to materialise, and at a ceremony hosted
    by Mrs Mugabe, they were amused to receive a small polystyrene packet of
    meat each. The squad continued to help develop the game, but, sadly, hockey
    has failed to capture the imagination of the population. Purpose-built
    stadiums in Harare and Bulawayo lie derelict, with most people reluctant to
    play or unable to afford the equipment. Cultural obstacles and transport
    also remain big problems.

    Twenty-eight years on, their triumph remains a tribute to their outstanding
    qualities. Nobody who shared the joy of the players and officials could deny
    them their moment of glory. They freely acknowledge that they won the gold
    medal without competing against the best in the world, but, like many
    athletes in Moscow in 1980, they seized their chance.

    1 Audrey Palmer President of the Zimbabwe Women's Hockey Association from
    1980 to 1995, she died last year, aged 74.

    2 Linda Watson Her pace as one of the country's top hurdlers and sprinters
    helped make Watson a useful utility player. Now follows swimming, as her
    daughter shows promise.

    3 Sue Huggett The midfielder has lived in Melbourne for 22 years and works
    in accounts.

    4 Gill Cowley Lives in New Zealand with her teenage son and works for an
    accountancy firm.

    5 Sonia Robertson Sandy Chick's twin married Springbok rugby union player
    Ian Robertson. Sonia coached and umpired hockey for years before the family
    moved to Durban, where they own a coffee shop.

    6 Sandy Chick The Chick twins also represented Zimbabwe at basketball. Sandy
    was a prolific goalscorer. She left Harare in 2006, moving to Dubai.

    7 Liz Dreyer (manager) Dreyer moved to Cape Town and was head of a girls'
    private school.

    8 Pat McKillop After retiring from hockey in 1995, she took up golf and has
    represented Matabeleland. Lives in Bulawayo.

    9 Brenda Phillips Moved to South Africa in 1984 and lives in Johannesburg
    with her husband and two sons. She is deputy head at Roedean Junior School.

    10 Maureen George George has lived in Cape Town for more than 20 years.
    Works as a PA.

    11 Sarah English The goalkeeper played hockey and softball until 1986. She
    works as an accountant for a construction firm in Harare.

    12 Arlene Boxhall Boxhall is the youngest women's hockey gold medallist,
    aged 18 years and 302 days. Nobody has heard from her since 1980.

    13 Trish Davies One of the few who remained in Zimbabwe. The family farm was
    seized four years ago in Robert Mugabe's land-grab. Davies works in accounts
    in Harare.

    14 Chris Prinsloo Prinsloo moved to Johannesburg, but works three months on
    and a month off in the UK as a carer.

    15 Helen Volk Emigrated to Johannesburg in 1984 with her husband and two
    sons. Her medal was stolen in a burglary in 1990. Despite repeated appeals,
    it was never returned.

    16 Anthea Stewart (player/coach) Married Rob Stewart, who represented
    Rhodesia at diving. Their son Evan won the 1m springboard 1998 Commonwealth
    Games gold and world championship title in Rome in 1994. Stewart lives in

    17 Ann Grant Came from a sporting family; Duncan Fletcher is the most famous
    of her five brothers. She moved to Durban in 1981 and is the financial
    director of several companies.

    18 Liz Chase Trained as a physical education teacher and has lived in
    Johannesburg since 1983.

    MAGGID FHF Starter

    Apr 25, 2007
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    Great history ,sadly that they doesn't have water base at least right now to re do that again!!
  3. justin-old

    justin-old FHF Legend

    Oct 14, 2006
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    That's the least of Zimbabwe's problems right now :(
  4. Robert

    Robert FHF Starter

    Sep 25, 2008
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    Yeah, my family is from Zimbabwe and my uncle played his hockey there too when he was younger. Played for Rhodesia if I'm not mistaken.
  5. justin-old

    justin-old FHF Legend

    Oct 14, 2006
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    What is/was his name, Robert?
  6. Goggs

    Goggs FHF Newbie

    Nov 28, 2006
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    Yup, I remember being at the airport to welcome the ladies home. In my memory the airport was packed - and so it should have been! :yes:

    Thanks for the article J. It's nice (and a little weird) to read where the ladies are now. Some of the ladies coached me at school and I knew a few of them from the clubs my dad played for.

    My Dad was picked to umpire at the same Olympics but had to give up the opportunity due to political issues. I think he would have given up a lot to be there but sacrificed the opportunity to umpire in order to safeguard future options for our family. It was/is a real shame he never made it.
  7. M Sindo

    M Sindo FHF Newbie

    Sep 2, 2010
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    Thank you for the nice history !

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