Pakistan’s Country Profile
Official country name: Islamic Republic of Pakistan
Area: 310,403 sq miles (803,940 sq km)
Population: 160.9 million (2006 est.)
Median age: 20.9
Ethnic Groups: Punjabi, Sindhi, Pashtun, Baloch and Muhajir
GDP and GDP per capita: $126.8 billion and $788 (2006 estimates)
Read a complete country profile of Pakistan
Pakistan’s Olympic History
First time represented at Summer Olympics: 1948
Gold medals won: 3
Athletes at the Beijing Olympics: 23
Number of Sports competing in at Beijing Olympics: 4
Medals at 2008 Beijing Olympics: 0
Pakistan’s Olympic Playbook
If cricket was an Olympic sport, Pakistan might (India permitting) have cleaned up in the medal count. But cricket made its Olympic appearance just once, at the 1900 Games in Paris, for a single game, supposedly between Britain and France but in reality between a British team made up of Englishmen living in England and a French team made up of Englishmen living in Paris. And the two sides may not even have known that they were playing for Olympic keeps. Britain won, though a gold was not awarded: Britain took the silver, France the bronze, and Pakistan, at the time, wasn’t yet born. Cricket has never been an Olympic sport since.
Still, don’t count out the Pakistanis. They’ve only been at this Olympic thing for half a century or so, Pakistan having become a nation only in 1947. Until then, its athletes played under the flag of India. Pakistan didn’t waste any time at all getting to the Olympics, making it to the London Games in 1948, and winning its first medal in Melbourne in 1956—in men’s field hockey. That’s where it’s at for Pakistan, if you’ll allow the grammatical trip: Every Olympic since, the Pakistani hockey team has gone to the games expecting not only to clinch a medal, but to get the gold. It succeeded in Rome in 1960, in Mexico City in 1968, and in Los Angeles in 1984. It also got the silver in 1964 and 1972, and the bronze in 1976 and 1992. Aside from a bronze in Boxing (1988) and a bronze in wrestling (1960), that about sums it up for Pakistan. It’s all about the hockey.
So it is in Beijing. Pakistan is sending 23 athletes to compete in four sports, but really it all comes down to the 19-member field hockey team. In the 100 years of the sport, only the Netherlands, India, Australia and Great Britain, in that order, have amassed more medals than Pakistan, and you can bet that half of India’s medals really belong to Pakistan, which easily could have been at the top of the table had it been around, on its own, since the beginning of Olympic field hockey’s time.
Those totals, by the way, are for both men and woman. Which brings up an unseemly caveat about Pakistan: It has never fielded a women’s team. Sexism? Islamism? You make the call.
At any rate Pakistan will face stiff competition from Australia, the Netherlands, Argentina and China. In all, 12 teams are competing for medals in both women and men’s field hockey.
Pakistan’s Athletes at the 2008 Beijing Olympics
Syed Abbas Haider Bilgrami
Shabbir Ahmed Khan
Muhammad Asif Rana
Syed Imran Ali Warsi
Track & Field/Athletics