June 06, 2020
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Iron Muscles, Steel Nerves

Iron Muscles, Steel Nerves
  • ‘Flying Sikh’ Milkha Singh was arguably India’s most gifted athlete in the 20th century. His historic 400 m run in the Rome Olympics where he broke the world record, though finishing fourth, is Indian olympic lore. An orphan in India from Lyallpur, in Pakistan, Milkha was the undisputed winner in the 200 and 400 m circuit in India. No other Indian since has received as many invitations to run in Europe as Milkha.

  • Her performance in the 1984 Olympics, when she burst on to the international scene by reaching the finals of the 400 m hurdles, raised Indian hopes for a medal. But P.T. Usha lost out in a photo finish, finishing fourth. The ‘Golden Girl’ made amends in the Seoul Asiad in 1986, winning four golds and one silver. Currently, she is on a comeback trail.

  • Perhaps India’s most coveted moment in hockey came in 1936 when Dhyan Chand scored seven consecutive goals in the Olympics final and earned the ‘Wizard of Hockey’ title. Joining the Indian army as a sepoy in 1922, he became an officer in 1942. He won three Olympic golds. The 1936 gold at Berlin was more significant because Hitler then was thick into his theories of race purification and two golds in the Olympics nailed his lie: Jesse Owens’ victories in athletics and our hockey triumph. India won the Olympic hockey gold in 1964 trouncing Pakistan and came up trumps at the 1975 World Cup hockey tournament in Kuala Lumpur.

  • He won the All-England Open in 1980 defeating Liem Swie King and became world No. 1. With his defensive skills and nagging play, Prakash Padukone harried his opponents into submission. At the height of his skills when the Chinese were dominating badminton, he was the only one they had few answers to.

  • Vishwanathan Anand locked horns with Gary Kasparov for the world title in 1997. Though Anand lost all matches except the first, he had won the category 18 Reggio Emilia Super GM tournament in Italy in 1989 where the opposition included both Kasparov and Anatoly Karpov. He also trounced Kasparov in the finals of the Credit Suisse Masters Rapid Chess tournament in 1996. In 1998, much to Kasparov’s amazement, Anand was awarded the Chess Oscar by journalists ahead of the Azerbaijani.

  • India’s doubles duo, Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi, won the Wimbledon doubles in 1999. Following up their French Open victory, the duo also reached the finals of the US Open. One of their finest moments was when John McEnroe strummed the guitar for them in the Wimbledon locker rooms as they lay soaked in the bathtub after the victory.

  • Kapil’s Devils humbled the Windies to bring the World Cup home in 1983. Sunny’s monumental 221 at the Oval in 1979 against England brought India to within 9 nine runs of a win in the Test. He scored a record 160 runs in one day. His heroics was instrumental in India’s series win over the Calypso Kings in West Indies in 1971. Nearly three decades later, Anil Kumble scored a perfect ten against Pakistan at Kotla in Delhi to equal England’s Jim Laker’s feat.

  • And Mihir Sen crossed seven sea channels in 1959.
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