1952 Olympics: India make it five in a row

Olympics Rings
Here is a look at the previous Olympic hockey tournaments. After winning fourth consecutive gold medal in 1948, the Indian hockey team prepared for their fifth mission and left for the 1952 Helsinki Olympics. Despite being the number one hockey team at that time, not many people wanted to give the Indians much of a chance for the team had been hit by serious selection problems. The team even lost a practice match at home against a Madras XI.

1952 Helsinki Olympics
Twelve teams participated in the tournament which was played on a knock-out format. India, Great Britain, the Netherlands and Pakistan got byes in their first-round and directly entered the quarter-finals. The other eight teams were Austria, Switzerland, Belgium, Finland, Germany, Poland, France and Italy.

India beat the Netherlands 6-1 in the final to lift gold for the fifth time while Great Britain beat Pakistan 2-1 to win the bronze. India scored 13 goals in three matches and of them, Balbir Singh Sr scored 9 including hat-tricks in the semifinal and the final. Skipper Kunwar Digvijay Singh ‘Babu' also earned great applause for his hockey display.

Results for India:
India beat Austria 4-0 in the quarterfinal, Great Britain 3-1 in the semifinal and the Netherlands 6-1 in the final. This was the second Olympic final in which India defeated the Netherlands.

Some facts from the 1952 Olympics:

1. Centre-forward C S Gurung was rushed to the tournament by a panicked Indian team management but he did not play a single match.
2. Consolation rounds were played between teams which were eliminated in the quarterfinals to classify positions. Hugo Budinger of Germany also finished with 9 goals.
3. The Poland team saw three Flinik brothers playing, namely, Jan, Alfons and Henryk.
4. The consolation match between Belgium and Poland was scrapped after it was found that the Belgians were playing with oversize sticks. In the replay match, Poland beat Belgium.

Next: India win 1956 Olympics

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