A day of stardom for Ksh Thoiba Singh at Seoul Olympics 1988
Sanasam Yaiphaba Singh
2nd September 1988 was a fateful day for Kshetrimayum Thoiba at Seoul Olympic Games. It showcased the glimpse of a life history of a distinguished Olympian. It was an eventful match between India and South Korea in which India won the match by a goal margin of 3-1. The big hockey stadium was fully crowded. It was because of the fact that enthusiastic young students and aged men and women besides the regular sports lovers particularly hockey were seen in the stadium to cheer and to boost the moral of the Korean team. The Korean audience had a strong conviction that their National team would win the match as their team had seen rapid improvement in the international events winning the Asian Games, Seoul 1986 by defeating Pakistan that also being held at Seoul, the capital of the country. The Indian team also had a strong determination to win the match lest India would not qualify for quarter final match because India had already lost the first match against Soviet Union by 1-0.
South Korea and India were in Group B which consisted of 6 countries including Soviet Union, West Germany, Canada and Great Britain. Both the teams had already lost to Soviet Union though both India and Korea tied against the European giants, West Germany and Great Britain respectively. South Korea formed Hockey Association in 1949 and the first National championship was played in the same year. It is said that a game similar to modern hockey was played in Korea during the era known as the Three Kingdoms and the game was revived in 1947. Since then hockey was played and popular mainly in their schools and colleges. Their style of playing hockey was in favour of their own continental technique.
The Indian team was all mentally and physically prepared to play the match with all their full strength. When the players entered the stadium and lined up to respect the National Anthems of their respective countries being sung just before the start of the match the audience applauded with cheers during the ceremony. It was Thoiba, the Indian player that drew the attention of the audience as his physical appearance was in no way different from their Korean counter parts. It might be surprising and astounding situation for them to see Thoiba in Indian team because of his similarity and appearance with the Koreans. They talked amongst themselves on seeing his mongoloid look in the Indian team. There was a sound of murmuring in their language and among the audience. But at that time he did not pay much attention to their reaction as he had to concentrate on the game.
The excitement of the Korean spectators grew when Kim Young-Joon scored the first goal against India. Soon the Korean supporters were seen jumping, dancing, raising their flag and screaming happiness while their team was leading the match.
Interestingly many of them were seen continually commenting by pointing their fingers on Thoiba Singh, shirt No.13 of Indian team on seeing his performance for Indian team against their team. (To be contd)