New Delhi, August 29, News24 Bureau
: 29th August is a great day for all sports-lovers as it happens to be the National Sport's Day and also Hockey wizard Dhyanchand's birthday.
This is also the day when deserving sportsmen receive awards from the President of India. The biggest sports award for lifetime achievement, The Dhyanchand Award, is given on this day.
There are many legends of Dhyanchand and it was not without a reason that he was called the Magician with the stick as the legend goes that when he played the ball got stuck to his hockey sticks, such were his moves.
It won't be an exaggeration to say that his influence extended beyond victories, as India won the men's field hockey gold medal in seven out of eight Olympics from 1928 to 1964. Such was his aura that it is believed that after India defeated Germany in the 1936 Olympics final 8-1, Hitler offered him a senior post in the German Army after witnessing his splendid performance to which he refused.
Dhyan Chand had the capacity to mesmerise opponents and crowd alike. But few know that he was equally gutsy as he and his teammates had the guts to defy the Fuehrer, Adolf Hitler in his own backyard. So daring was he that Dhyan Chand – leading the Indian contingent refused to salute Adolf Hitler during the opening ceremony of the 1936 Berlin Olympics.
While Hitler arrived for the guard of honour, the wizard of hockey carrying the flag in a light blue turban and golden outfit made a huge political statement in a grand gesture of defiance. This daring act of his did not get noticed in pre-independent India but it created quite a stir and controversy in Germany.
Dhyanchand also refused Hitler's offer of a position as a Lieutenant. It would be quite impossible to prove that this interaction between Hitler and Dhyan Chand took place but it is proven from video footage of the 1936 Berlin Olympics that the German leader was present at the stadium when India played his country in the gold medal match.
Indian Hockey Team had won all their three league matches against Hungary, USA, and Japan and reached the semi-finals. Dhyan Chand scored four goals against France as India beat France 10-0 to be assured of a medal. Now they had to play a match against the Germans for the gold. A German newspaper carried a headline: 'The Olympic complex now has a magic show too. There were posters all over Berlin: 'Visit the hockey stadium to watch the Indian magician Dhyan Chand in action.'
The great episode of the legendary hockey final was watched by a crowd of 40,000 that included top Nazi officials and Hitler himself. Germany were crushed by India with the captain scoring three goals. Hitler was supposed to present the gold medal to the winning team, and as the legend goes, the dictator left the stadium in frustration and anger.