1956 Games: India complete double hat-trick in hockey gold

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Bangalore, Jul 16: Here is a look at the previous Olympic hockey tournaments. The Indian outfit that left for the 1956 Melbourne Olympics was a fantastic blend of experience and youth. The team, captained by centre-forward Balbir Singh and looking for its sixth gold after winning the 1952 title, lived up to the expectations gracefully.

1956 Melbourne Olympics
Twelve teams took part at the 1956 Games and they were divided into three groups. Group A had India, Singapore, Afghanistan and the USA, Group B featured Great Britain, Australia, Malaya and Kenya and Group C comprised Pakistan, Germany, Belgium and New Zealand. Some of the West Asian countries boycotted the Games owing to the Suez Canal crisis while teams like the Netherlands and Spain did not participate to protest the former Soviet Union’s handling of Hungarian revolution.

India beat Pakistan 1-0 in the first all-Asia Olympic hockey final to win gold while Germany beat the Great Britain 2-1 to win bronze.

Results for India:
India trounced Afghanistan 14-0 and the USA 16-0 and defeated Singapore 6-0 in the group matches. In the semifinal, India beat Germany while in the final, they beat Pakistan. Both the semifinal and final match scorelines read 1-0 in favour of India. This was another Olympic in which India did not concede a single goal while scored 38.

Some facts from the 1956 Olympics:

1. Udham Singh, who replaced skipper Balbir Singh who fractured his figure in the first match, proved to be a great scorer. He scored 14 goals including seven against the USA.
2. Winning gold at the 1956 Games meant India did a double hat-trick in lifting the Olympic hockey title, a feat yet to be paralleled.
3. Great Britain and Australia had played a tie-breaker match to decide who would advance to the semi-final from Group B after both teams ended on 4 points. Great Britain defeated the hosts 1-0 in that match.

Next: Pakistan end India'’s domination at 1960 Games

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