The World's Hockey Champions 1936

By Olympic Gold Medallist M. N. Masood

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Summary of the

Berlin Olympics

Once and only once was the flag of India hoisted in the Olympic Stadium, when our final victory in the hockey tournament was declared and the national anthem played.

We marched in the arena opposite to the Loges of Honour, and Dhyan Chand, on behalf of the team and the country, received from a fair German maiden an oak tree, 28" high, and enclosed in a special pot that was adorned with the Olympic Bell.
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ield and track events, and the football semi-finals and final were held in the Olympic Stadium, which has a seating accommodation of 130,000 persons. It was packed to its fullest capacity for the Opening Ceremony on the 1st of August, and very few vacant seats were to be seen during the games from 2nd August to 16th August.

The events started daily at 9 am and closed at 12 noon, restarted at 3 pm and closed at 6 pm. The programme comprised 19 different sports, five more than at Los Angeles, with a total of 129 competitions, 35 of which were team events.

The number of competitors which a nation could enter varied in different competitions. In the individual events, track and field athletics, swimming, riding, shooting and fencing, the number was limited in each case to three. With reserves in events like football, hockey, etc., 22 players were allowed per team.

The United States had, perhaps, the largest number of entrants, about 350 in number, and Haiti, the fewest, only 1. India sent a contingent of 28 and Burma competed with 3, a weightlifter, his trainer and a manager.

The Americans, with their ‘wonder negroes’, carried everything in track events, and the Germans were found superior in field events. In fact, in all competitions, either Americans or the Germans had the upper hand, and sometimes it appeared as if these were the only two nations competing.

Very early in the Games, it was obvious that America and Germany would be the closest rivals in the final ranking of the nations. The rivalry was continued very closely, almost to the end of the Games, when the superiority of Germany could not be denied in equestrian events, and she thus took a lead.

In the final ranking of the nations, Germany led with 33 gold medals to her credit, America being second with 24. Hungary was third with 10, followed by Italy (8), Finland and France (7 each), Sweden, Japan and Holland (6 each), Great Britain and Austria (4 each), Czechoslovakia (3), Estonia, Egypt and Argentina (2 each), and Switzerland, Canada, Norway, Turkey, New Zealand and India (1 each). In all, 168 gold, 168 silver and 168 bronze medals were awarded to the successful athletes.

Four years ago, long outstanding records were broken at Los Angeles in what was till then the greatest athletic festival in history. It was generally felt at that time, so wonderful were many of the performances, that the limits of athletic capacity had been reached.

This year, however, there has been another all-round improvement, and many Olympic and world records were broken. In some of the events, namely Hammer Throw and Long Jump, the Olympic records were broken only to be re-broken by the following competitors. So competitive was the atmosphere prevailing in Berlin that a contestant, after breaking an Olympic or a world record, could not heave a sigh of relief until all the contestants in the event had competed finally.

Jessie Owens, the American negro, the world's greatest sprinter and jumper, was undoubtedly the most popular figure among all the competing athletes. His was a charming personality, modest but confident of his ultimate victory. By winning three titles in a week, his pre-eminence in the athletic world was unquestionable, only to be shared in the past, perhaps, by the Finn, Nurmi.

Jessie's brother negroes were also in the first flight, and made history in the Olympic Games. These 'braves' always entered and left the Stadium through the tunnel. Their immense popularity forced them into seclusion throughout the Games. They were members of a coloured race, but no one in Germany seemed to think of it. They were sportsmen, and that was all that was necessary.

Germany justified by her long list of successes her claim to be one of the foremost athletic nations of the world. Hungary, France, Italy, Holland and Sweden were always in the picture with their athletes in the running of various events; Italy showed remarkable supremacy in fencing and Hungary in water-polo. The Finns, who have the reputation of winning long distance runs, lived up to their reputation and followed in the footsteps of Nurmi.

Perhaps the most disappointing performance was that of the British athletes. To put it in another way, one might say that they fell far short of our expectations. The only redeeming features for Britain were the wins in the 1 mile relay race and the 50 kilometre walk.

India's athletes never once gave us hope of outliving even the elimination rounds. They did their best, but were matched against the flower of world's manhood who had come to Berlin after intensive training in their own countries for a number of years. What chance had our best against these youths?

Swami of Bombay, our Marathon runner, in spite of his illness before the Olympic Games put up the best performance of the Indian athletes. He completed this historical race by running 26 miles and finished sixth from the last in a group of 35 runners.

Whiteside and Bhalla could not beat even one country in the heats of short distance races. Ronak Singh disappointed us in the six mile run by dropping out when the race was not half run, a convincing proof of our crude methods of training. Our wrestlers, Akram Rasool, Anwar and Thorat, met the same fate as our athletes. We had no swimmers to compete.

Oaks for Victors

Once and only once was the flag of India hoisted in the Olympic Stadium, when our final victory in the hockey tournament was declared and the national anthem played. We marched in the arena opposite to the Loges of Honour, and Dhyan Chand, on behalf of the team and the country, received from a fair German maiden an oak tree, 28" high and enclosed in a special pot.

This pot was adorned with the Olympic Bell and bore the words: Grow to the honour of the Victory! Summon to further achievements!

The oak tree was presented to every nation for each victory in the way it was presented to us, and now that these trees have been conveyed to the four corners of the world by the victors of the Olympic Games, they will grow to the honour of the country in which they have been planted, and remind posterity of the struggle of the present athletes for victory.

Book of Honour

The names of all those who strove to bring success to the Berlin Olympiad were recorded in the Book of Honour. Headed with the name of the Fuhrer and the Reich Chancellor, the book contains the names, written by themselves, of all the guests of honour, and of the three prize winners in each Olympic competition. Artistically bound, it will be treasured by the Germans as a permanent and valuable record.

Festival Nights

To impart an appearance of festivity to the Olympic Games, the following programme was arranged during the evenings:

Date Event
August 3 Festival Play – Olympic Youth
August 4 Gliding Demonstration
Gymnastics – Norwegian Display
August 7 Gymnastics – Hungarian Display
August 10 Display of ‘Music and Dances of the Nations’
August 12 Base-ball display, followed by military concert
August 13 Grand military concert

The most impressive of these all was the Festival Play, which bore the title ‘Olympic Youth’, and provided an artistic expression of the spirit and significance of youthful sport and play, emphasising service to one’s country as the highest Olympic ideal.


The best sprinters of the world - (left to right) Frank Wykoff, Jesse Owens and Ralph Metcalfe