The years of three consecutive Olympic gold medals in hockey (1928, 1932, 1936) beneath the Union Jack gave method to Independent India’s first triumph on the Games; and it was the lads’s hockey group that continued its reign, this time beneath the captaincy of Kishan Lal and impressed by the chief architect of India’s victory within the ultimate, Balbir Singh Sr.
Besides Balbir Sr and captain Kishan Lal, the 1948 squad had the likes of India’s different hockey legends like Kunwar Digvijay Singh Babu, Keshav Dutt and Leslie Claudius. From among the many 20 members of that squad, solely Dutt is alive as we speak.
Earlier this yr, on May 25, Balbir Sr handed away on the age of 96 after a continual pulmonary sickness. But the legacy left behind by his three Olympic gold medals (1948, 1952, 1956) and his group won’t ever die.
“The Tiranga rose up slowly. With our National Anthem being performed, my freedom-fighter father’s phrases ‘Our Flag, Our Country’ got here flooding again. I lastly understood what he meant. I felt rising off the bottom alongside the fluttering Tiranga,” the legend had stated in regards to the 1948 gold in a dialog with Timesofindia.com in 2018.
Balbir Sr, a centre-forward, scored two targets within the ultimate in opposition to Great Britain, whereas Tarlochan Singh and Pat Jansen hit the opposite two, as India beat Great Britain 4-Zero in what was additionally the primary assembly between the 2 sides on the Olympics. This was India’s fourth consecutive Olympic gold (1928, 1932, 1936, 1948).
India started their 1948 Olympics marketing campaign with a thumping 8-Zero win in opposition to Austria and adopted it up by thrashing Argentina 9-1, during which Balbir Singh Sr scored six targets. In their final group fixture, the Indian group was examined by Spain earlier than successful the sport 2-0.
In the semis, India eked out a preventing 2-1 win in opposition to Holland.
(Balbir Singh Sr after scoring his second purpose within the 1948 Olympics ultimate)
The ultimate on the Wembley Stadium in London was an important day. Payback time could not have had a greater background for India: The Olympic Games in London, males’s hockey ultimate in opposition to the previous rulers, on British soil, Independent India’s first Olympic medal there for the taking.
It all occurred in that order.
Balbir Singh Sr, in his autobiography ‘The Golden Hat-Trick – My Hockey Days’, describes the second when the umpire blew the full-time whistle at Wembley signalling India’s win.
“After the victory, VK Krishan Menon, free India’s first High Commissioner in London, who witnessed the match, got here working to congratulate us,” he wrote.
This was Balbir Singh Sr’s first Olympic gold medal.
Incredibly, Balbir Singh Sr, who was in pink sizzling kind having completed as the highest scorer for Punjab within the 1946 and 1947 National championships, was initially not picked within the squad. Former hockey legend Richard Carr, who performed for India of their gold medal-winning 1932 Olympic marketing campaign in Los Angeles, rallied for Balbir Singh’s inclusion and he was lastly picked.
Despite that, Balbir Singh Sr was dropped within the subsequent match in opposition to Spain and likewise didn’t play within the semi-final in opposition to the Netherlands.
A protest by Indian college students in London, who took their grouse to the then Indian High Commissioner VK Krishna Menon, compelled the group administration to incorporate Balbir Singh Sr for the ultimate in opposition to Great Britain. And the remainder, as they are saying, is historical past.
(1948 Olympic winners assembly Governor General C. Rajagopalachari)
On this historic day, Balbir Singh Sr’s good friend Dr. Rajendra Kalra shared among the phrases the legend had spoken in regards to the historic day throughout certainly one of their conversations.
“He stated, ‘I used to be so fortunate. The ultimate was in opposition to our former rulers, and it was a matter of enjoyment and honour that we beat them on their very own soil,” recalled Dr Kalra, who was additionally the group physician throughout India’s victorious 1975 World Cup marketing campaign, whereas speaking to Timesofindia.com. Balbir Singh Sr was the supervisor of the group at the moment.
“Balbir stated ‘Doctor saab, it was a surreal feeling after they declared the gold goes to India, the Indian flag was hoisted and the National Anthem performed. There could not be a much bigger honour. The success that day tasted the perfect. I felt like I used to be on the highest of the world’,” Dr Kalra added.
In a publish on Balbir Singh Sr’s official Facebook web page, his daughter, Sushbir Bhomia, talked about that in his previous few years, her father additionally developed a way of disappointment as to how the younger technology tends to neglect the primary largest day in sports activities for India after independence.
“In India we have now a follow to rejoice many nationwide days, numerous birthdays and even keep in mind just a few individuals on the day they stated adieu to this world, but it surely’s unusual as no one remembers ‘The biggest day of Sports for Independent India’!” Sushbir quoted her father within the publish.
However, former India coach Harendra Singh believes it is the responsibility of everybody related to hockey to inform the younger technology about such historic moments.
“Until we take initiatives like going to colleges and faculties and telling the scholars about our legacy and historical past, it will not occur. It’s our responsibility,” stated Harendra, a former India participant and coach of India’s 2016 Junior Men’s World Cup-winning group.
On that word, it could maybe be greatest to conclude with how the nation’s collective euphoria for the 1948 victory has been described in Balbir Singh Sr’s autobiography.
“Bombay actually rolled out its largest pink carpet. It was pure, because the most variety of gamers within the group had been from that metropolis…We had been swept off our ft and it was right here that I realised what the victory meant to our nation, starved because it was of world class accomplishments. Hockey was the one sport that gave the nation a ray of golden hope, one thing to cheer for and rejoice.”
India Squad, 1948 London Olympics: Kishan Lal (c), Ranganathan Francis, Leo Pinto, Walter D’Souza, Tarlochan Singh Bawa, Akhtar Hussain, Randhir Singh Gentle, Kunwar Digvijay Singh Babu, Keshav Dutt, Amir Kumar, Maxie Vaz, Leslie Claudius, Balbir Singh, Patrick Jansen, Latifur Rehman, Lawrie Fernandes, Gerald Glacken, Reginald Rodrigues, Grahanandan Singh, Jaswant Singh Rajput