Hockey gold for newly independent India

As the Olympic Games began in London, it was still just a year since India had gained its independence from Great Britain. The country craved a gold medal to mark its achievement, and the one it wanted more than any was in the hockey tournament, India's national sport and the one where its Olympic pedigree was strongest.

India had won gold in 1928, 1932 and 1936, scoring 102 goals in ten matches and conceding just three.

Their players were used to hard, dry surfaces. In Britain, most of the matches were played in rain, but the Indians coped perfectly well, qualifying from their group with ease.

The semi-final was less easy – a close 2-1 win over the Netherlands that proved a far tougher match than anyone had predicted. In the other semi-final, Britain beat Pakistan 2-0 to set up the final the Indians really wanted, a showdown with Britain.

Britain did not concede a single goal in the tournament so far and India had never looked like failing to score. It would prove a great match.

In the end, it was India's speed and tactical brilliance that won the day, a 4-0 victory proving an emphatic confirmation of their pre-eminence. The average age of the players on both sides probably gives a strong clue as to where that speed came from – India's average player was 20 years old; Britain's was 30.

It was India's first Olympic gold medal as an independent country, but far from the last for either nation or team. India would retain the Olympic title in 1952 and 1956 before losing in the 1960 final, ending a run of 30 successive victories at the Olympic Games.


Free live sport events. Unlimited access to series. Unrivalled Olympic news & highlights.
Sign up here Sign up here