India will complete 75 years of Independence this year. Here is a series acknowledging 75 great sporting achievements by Indian athletes. Sportstar will present one iconic sporting achievement each day, leading up to August 15, 2022.

India's Olympic hockey gold in 1952

July 24, 1952: India won the Olympic Hockey Championship and in turn retained the world title. It beat Holland decisively by six goals to one in the final played at the Helsinki Olympic hockey ground, Finland.

The match was a personal triumph for Balbir Singh, the Indian centre-forward, who scored five goals.

The Indian forward line moved in accordance with a carefully prepared plan, which was brilliantly executed by skipper K.D. Singh 'Babu' and Balbir.


Balbir Singh Sr., who scored five goals in that match, in action at the Helsinki Olympic Games of 1952


After being completely outclassed in the first half, when their robust tactics paid no dividends, the Dutch in the second half decided to meet polish with polish, science with science.

This change in mode of play immediately paid rich dividends in the form of their only goal of the match, scored by their inside-left R.T. Esser. His shot was as spectacular as that of Babu's.

READ | A day with the hockey legend Balbir Singh 

When the final whistle went up, 5,000 thrilled spectators rose to give a hearty cheer as India had struck gold for the fifth successive time.

The match was watched by then India's Minister to Finland, M. Desai and his wife.

Flags of India, Holland and Britain went up, while the band played India's National Anthem,  Jana Gana Mana.

(Excerpts from an article first published in The Hindu in 1952)