How Fate And Partition Made Ali Dara Represent Two Countries In Back To Back Olympics
When Ali Dara won gold as part of the Indian hockey team in 1936, little did he know that fate had other plans for him. World War II broke out in 1939 and lasted till 1945, meaning there were no Olympics in 1940 and 1944. The next edition took place in 1948.
Ali was once again representing his country when the Games got underway, but there was one difference. It was not the same nation he represented back in 1936. Yes, 12 years later he was playing for the new country that had been born in 1947 - Pakistan.
Two back to back Olympics, two different teams. India gained independence in 1947 but at the cost of partition. Pakistan was the new country with whom we would have a tense political relationship for over the next 70 years. Pakistan too would be divided in 1971 when Bangladesh gained its independence, but at that moment it was a young country looking to make its mark in sports.
Ali hailed from Faisalabad in West Punjab which fell under Pakistan once partition took place, and he opted to stay in the new country. Back in 1936 he was part of the side that thrashed Germany 8-1 and guess who was watching from the stands? None other then Adolf Hitler himself.
In 1948, Pakistan made it to the semis and lost to Great Britain. They faced Netherlands in the bronze medal playoff and the game was drawn 1-1. In the replay Pakistan lost 4-1 to finish 4th. India meanwhile went on to win gold, their first as an independent nation. Pakistan would be the side to end India's gold rush since 1928 when they defeated them in the final in 1960. Ali was the manager in 1976 when Pakistan won a bronze.
He also served in the Royal Indian Army and during World War II was sent to Malaysia and he ended up being captured.
It is a sad twist of fate that Ali missed out on being part of the Indian side that won their first gold as an independent side. Had he not opted to stay in Pakistan, or if partition had not taken place, no doubt he would have been playing.
He did lose some good years due to the war. In the end he finished with the dubious distinction of playing for two countries in consecutive Olympic editions. Fate and partition ensured that happened.