Today has been one of the most important days for India and Indian Hockey. And so does the importance spread to Hockey lovers across the globe. Today in 1928, India won their first Olympic Gold Medal at the 1928 Summer Games. It was also the first Olympic Gold medal in Field Hockey. Yes, May 26 in Indian Hockey connects us to the first Olympic grandeur Indian Hockey saw.
Tracing back the Olympic history takes us to ancient Olympics in Greece, the origin of Modern Olympic Games. The Games were geographically constrained to Greece till 1896 which saw Modern Olympics taking over and the first Olympic Games were held at Athens with 14 nations participating.
Since, then the Olympic Games have been held every four years but for the four editions which got disrupted viz. Berlin 1916 due to World War I, 1940 & 1944 due to World War II and the Tokyo Olympics which is postponed to 2021 due to Corona Virus pandemic.
May 26 in Indian Hockey: How it Started
India debuted in the Olympics in 1900, when Norman Pritchard won two medals for India, two Silver Medals in Athletics. India participated in their fourth Olympic Games in 1928 and this edition would create a history to flash back for years to come. This was the first Olympic for India visavis Indian Hockey team and May 26 in Indian Hockey registered how historic was the debut.
The most attractive fact about the tale of May 26 in Indian Hockey is that despite being the debut edition of Indian Indian Hockey, it went on to be the among the most proud moments for Indians and Indian Hockey lovers. And why not, it started a sequence of 6 consecutive Olympic Golds and 12 Olympic Medals with 8 Gold medals.
This was first of three Olympics, undivided India played under British rule and the team would have British origin and Indian players, both. But that is about politics and nations, we are talking about sports today. British should get the credit for starting Hockey culture in India.
Indian team was announced for the Amsterdam 1928 Summer Games under the leadership of Jaipal Singh. Other players were Richard Allen, Michael Gateley, William Goodsir-Cullen, Leslie Hammond, Feroz Khan, George Marthins, Rex Norris, Broome Penniger (VC), Michael Rocque, Frederic Seaman, Ali Shaukat, Dhyan Chand, Sayed Yusuf & Kher Singh Gill.
Nine teams participated in the 18-match Olympic Hockey tournament which happened during May 17-26, 1928. These teams were India, Belgium, Denmark, Switzerland, Austria, Netherlands, Germany, France and Spain. The teams were divided in two groups with the first one having 5 teams viz. India, Belgium, Denmark, Switzerland & Austria, while the second group having Netherlands, Germany, France and Spain.
India entered the title clash defeating Austria 6-0, Belgium 9-0, Denmark 5-0 & Switzerland 6-0. Netherlands, on the other hand, entered the final of this tournament defeating France 5-0, Germany 2-1 and holding Spain to 1-1 draw.
May 26 in Indian Hockey
India had entered into the tournament’s final and this was the historic May 26 in Indian Hockey. Important facts in lead to the tournament’s final were that India hadn’t conceded any goals so far and moreover they were already seeing a star in making. A star who would go on to be called the “Magician with Sticks“. Yes, Dhyan Chand, who had already scored two hat-tricks, & one four goals set from the four matches India played. However, no matches he left un-scored as he scored one in the other match.
11 goals to his name already and the final, May 26 in Indian Hockey, saw another hat-trick from the greatest hockey player ever to have entered a hockey field. The day brought another one-sided win for India and they defeated Netherlands 3-0 with a hat-trick from the star Dhyan Chand. Germany got the Bronze medal of the tournament.
This was the history of May 26 in Indian Hockey, the day which not only got India started with the Olympic Medals, but highest podium of medals, Olympic Gold. The day and the tournament brought forward one of the most followed field hockey players of yesteryears, someone who generations of Hockey players would inspire from.
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