NEW DELHI: Former Indian hockey forward Gurdev Singh, who played an integral part in India's Gold Medal victory at the 1956 Olympics in Melbourne, reminisced playing alongside the great Balbir Singh Sr ahead of the Tokyo Olympics.
On Hockey India's Flashback Series, the 87-year-old recounted that if Balbir Singh got into the D, he would definitely find the back of the net, "We played with five forwards in that tournament. I scored 5 goals in the Olympics. We all used to practice a lot, but Balbir Singh Sr used to practice much more. Whenever he got into the D, he never missed the goal. He was a really good scorer."
The former India player added that during a non-Olympic match Balbir Singh Sr was in such good form that he scored every time he got the ball, "There was a match in which Balbir Singh got the ball four-five times and he converted each one of those chances into goals. Then he said, 'if you keep giving me the ball, then I'll keep scoring and keep playing for four-five years'."
When asked about his memories from the Melbourne Games, Gurdev said, "It was a very happy moment for us. We won all the matches in the 1956 Olympics. This was only the second time that no team had scored against India in the entire Olympics campaign. Our captain Balbir Singh Sr's finger was broken during the tournament, but he still played for the team. At that time, wherever the Indian hockey team went, it always won."
The former forward also spoke about roaming around in Melbourne during the Olympics, "Australia is a great country. During our free time, the entire team went around Melbourne and saw some sights."
Winning an Olympic Medal is a huge achievement for any sportsperson, but the Indian team didn't receive a big reception once they arrived in India. With great pride, Gurdev said that it was normal for India to win a Gold in hockey in those days.
"When we came back from Melbourne with the Gold Medal, there were only three-four persons to receive us at the airport. Everyone expected us to win as it was quite normal for us to win Gold Medals in the Olympics," signed off Gurdev.