1936: India Wins Gold At The Berlin Olympics
Despite having comprehensively beaten the world in 1928 and 1932, India’s supremacy in field hockey was still in doubt on the eve of the Berlin Games in 1936. This was because all of Europe had stayed away from the 1932 hockey competition at Los Angeles on account of the Great Depression and also because European hockey had improved by quite a few notches in the interim. Accordingly, trying to defend the title at Berlin in 1936 was the biggest challenge Indian hockey had ever faced. The Indians under Dhyan Chand met the challenge in style crushing Germany 8–1 to win their third consecutive Olympic Gold. With this victory, the legend of Indian hockey and the game’s special affinity with the ‘Orient’ was embellished further. It is a tenet of Indian sporting folklore that Hitler personally met Dhyan Chand and offered him an officer’s commission in the Wehrmacht if only he would play for Germany. This story is almost certainly apocryphal because none of the contemporary sources mention this incident and neither does Dhyan Chand in his autobiography.
Extracts from Sporting Times: The 175 Year Journey Of Indian Sports, launched in Mumbai today as part of the Times of India's 175th anniversary celebrations, that uses the Times of India archives to document the India sporting story.
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