Jacob Anderson fired a superb hat-trick as Australia hammered Great Britain 6-1 to book their place in the final of hockey’s Pro League Grand Final in the Netherlands on Friday.
No prelude to the Olympics would be complete without discussing Dhyan Chand, India’s hockey legend.
The man was a genius – there is not an iota of doubt about it. His stick work and dribbling skills made many see a magician in him.
He guided team India to three successive Olympic golds, in 1928, 1932 and 1936. At the Berlin Olympics, Adolf Hitler was so impressed by the legend’s wizardry, he offered Chand German citizenship, which the latter politely refused.
The Wizard of Hockey will forever be our Bharat Ratna (Jewel of India) irrespective of him getting the award.
Like his last name Chand, which means moon in India, he sits proudly among the stars.
Before independence, India hardly had any worthy opponent in hockey. The first to challenge India’s monopoly was newly formed neighbor Pakistan, as a good number of players migrated there post partition. Many who earlier played for undivided India came from Lahore, which was considered the hockey capital of pre-partition India.
Soon India started struggling against its neighbour, who finally broke India’s monopoly by winning gold in Rome, 1960. India, however, came back to win in Tokyo, 1964.
It was not until the 1970s that other powerhouses, like Australia, West Germany, Holland and Spain, arrived on the scene. India won their last Hockey World Cup under the leadership of Ajit Pal Singh in 1975, and have been in decline ever since.
The last Olympic gold came at the 1980 Moscow Olympics, which was boycotted by hockey powerhouses Pakistan, Australia, West Germany and Netherlands. India has been waiting for an Olympics medal ever since.
The top three forces in Olympics now, Australia, Germany and Netherlands, are likely to share the medals at Rio. For India, reaching the semi-finals is the best case scenario.
It’s time to resuscitate past glory.