1968 Olympics gold medallist Gulraiz Akhtar passes away

By: News Desk      Published: 11:08 AM, 1 Nov, 2021
Gulraiz Akhtar
Gulraiz Akhtar

Pakistan’s former hockey player and Olympian Gulraiz Akhtar passed away in Lahore on Monday. He was 78.

He was the husband of current Deputy Director Sports Punjab Chand Parveen.

Pakistan Hockey Federation president Brig (retd) Khalid Sajjad Khokhar and secretary Asif Bajwa expressed their sorrow and grief over the passing of the 1968 Olympics gold medallist and said his services for the game will be remembered forever.

Gulraiz Akhtar was born on February 2, 1943, in Rawalpindi to Muhammad Amin and Amina. Although his father was a lawyer by profession, Akhtar had a humble upbringing. He was fourth among seven siblings, three brothers and four sisters.

Inspired by their uncle Muhammad Naseeb (1950), who was also an International Field Hockey player for Pakistan and Naseer Bunda, a neighbour and family friend who was also an Olympic Gold Medalist, all three brothers, Javed, Pervez and Gulraiz started playing field hockey regularly at a local playground in Rawalpindi.

One of his elder brothers, Pervez Akhtar, also became an international player for Pakistan. However, Gulraiz Akhtar shone the most, becoming Pakistan's first Left-Half to score a goal. He debuted for Pakistan at the 1966 International Hamburg Festival.His career concluded with three gold medals in International Tournaments. He won his first gold medal at the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City and then a Gold Medal in Bangkok Asian Games in 1970. At that stage, he said goodbye to international hockey but continued appearing for the Customs in the domestic circuit.

At the 1972 Olympics, Pakistan lost in the final against former West Germany. Pakistan players, who were unsatisfied with the umpiring, misbehaved during the medal ceremony. The FIH punished them with the life ban, later reduced, and the players were eligible for the 1974 Asian Games. With those players unavailable, the Pakistan team for the 1973 World Cup mainly comprised newcomers. A few old-timers were recalled including Gulraiz. The second string Pakistan side surprised everyone by reaching the semifinal and finished fourth.

Gulraiz Akhtar served in Customs before attaining retirement age in 2000. He remained active in hockey events and sometimes wrote in renowned magazines and newspapers.

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