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2004 Olympics: The Process of Consolidation (7/30/2004)
--S. Mageshwaran
1932 Los Angeles: Now, for the first time in sporting history an Indian team was to participate on American soil. United States of America by then had become the benchmark for excellence in sport, a tradition that continues till date, and India's performance in hockey at 1932 Los Angeles only added to that reputation.

Competition, in terms of quality as well as quantity, was minimal for the Indians. They first beat Japan 11-1 and went on to rout USA 24-1, a record that continued as the biggest ever score in an international hockey match till Argentina defeated Dominican Republic 30-0 in the Pan American Games last year. Roop Singh's haul of ten goals in that match, however, continues as the record for the most number of goals scored by a single player in an international hockey match.

Such was the dominance of the Indian team, the only point of interest in both the matches they played was the margin of victory, with the result a foregone conclusion. Indian players, much like in Amsterdam, were darlings of the crowd. And no better example to underline the Indians' popularity than the occasion when USA scored their lone goal in the momentous match.

Indian midfield and defence allowed the Americans to have free run, so that the game opened a little more, only to find their goalkeeper Richard James Allen absent from his guard. The affable goalkeeper, who had not conceded a single goal till India landed in Los Angeles, was busy signing autographs behind the goal post!

Americans who were used to remarkable achievements in the sporting field acknowledged and accepted Indian hockey players as one of their own. American newspapers went ga-ga over the Indians as one sport scribe voted the Indian performance as "the most outstanding exhibition of skill in any sport."

By then, the Indian freedom movement had gained momentum as another journalist wrote: "All the colour, glamour and pageantry of Rudyard Kipling's India might well have found its incarnation in the personnel of the Indian team which is to represent the land of Mahatma Gandhi. So agile are the members of the team that they can run the full length of the hockey field, juggling a small wooden ball with the flat of a hockey stick."

Politics was somehow to connect this Indian team in the future too. The captain of the 1932 team Lal Shah Bokhari, who migrated to Pakistan after the partition went on to become his new country's High Commissioner to Ceylon till he died in 1958.

Brothers Dhyan Chand (10) and Roop Singh (15) accounted for 25 goals in the Indian campaign, in what was one of the most dominant performances in world sport history. The Indian team at Los Angeles

Lal Shah Bokhari (Captain), Richard J. Allen (goalkeeper), Syed Mohammed Jafar, Mohammed Aslam, Frank Brewin, Richard J. Carr, Dhyan Chand, Leslie C. Hammond, Arthur C. Hind, Masud Minhas, Broome Eric Pinniger, Gurmeet Singh Kullar, Roop Singh, Carlyle C. Tapsell, William Sullivan.

India's performance at Los Angeles

Played: 2. Won: 2. Goals For: 35. Goals Against : 2.

Courtesy Vijay Times

smageshwaran@hotmail.com

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