Achievements: Figured in the Guinness Book of World Records for maximum number of Olympic medals in hockey (3 gold and 1 silver); Padma Shri in 1971
Leslie Walter Claudius was an Indian Hockey Player. An Anglo-Indian person by origin, he holds a Guinness World Record for being part of a Hockey team to win maximum number of Medals at the Olympic Games.
Early Life & Introduction to Hockey
He was born on the 25th of March 1927 at Bilaspur, Madhya Pradesh in a family with 9 children. Initially, he was very much interested towards the game of Football, and used to skip school so that he could play the game. He was an accomplished Football player, and even got a chance to be a part of the Bengal Nagpur Railway (BNR) team as a Left-Half in the Indian Football Association Shield Tournament. Leslie’s first introduction with the game of Hockey happened during a very strange event. While a practice session between the ‘A’ and ‘B’ Hockey teams of the Bengal Nagpur Railway (BNR) was going on at Kharagpur, and the teams were preparing for the Beighton Cup tournament going to be organized in Calcutta (now Kolkata). Leslie was sitting by the field, just watching the game. A player was found short in one of the 2 teams, and the Captain Dickie Carr asked Leslie to play for them. Dickie had the recognition of playing for Indin at Berlin Olympics 1936. Although Leslie didn’t know much about Hockey, Dickie liked his style of playing and called him for a trial. Just a few days after, Leslie was inducted into the BNR team, some players of which enjoyed the status of being an Olympian. The team managed to finish second at the Beighton Cup, and Leslie found the game of Hockey exciting enough to leave Football.
Claudius played for Port Commissioner’s team as a Center Half in the Aga Khan tournament held at Bombay (now Mumbai) in the year 1948. He delivered a wonderful performance and caught the eye of the nation. In the selection trials for the London Olympics right after the Aga Khan tournament, Leslie had a fracture in his hand. Still, he did so good at the trials that he was selected for the event at the age of 21. It was just 2 years that he had begun playing Hockey. He got to play in only one match at the London Olympics, which gave India its first Gold Medal as an independent nation.
Leslie was a part of the Indian Olympic squad that made a hat-trick of Gold Medals at London, Helsinki and Melbourne Olympics. His skills as a strong Mid Fielder got him worldwide recognition and fame.
In the year 1959, Leslie Claudius was declared the Captain of the Indian Hockey team, while Dhyan Chand was the Coach of the team. He led the team to a Europe tour where the team played 19 matches, won 15 out of them, drew 3 and lost just 1 match. At the Rome Olympics 1960, Leslie wanted to become the first Hockey player to have been a part of the team winning 4 Hockey Gold Medals in a row. Till then, India had a wonderful record of 30 consecutive victories in Olympics since the year 1928. But India lost to Pakistan in the Final match of the event, which broke the dreams of Leslie. Still, he managed to establish a world record of winning 4 Olympic Medals in Hockey, including 3 Gold and 1 Silver. He was also the first Hockey player ever to represent his team in 4 Olympic events. Claudius ended his International career after the Rome Olympics, and represented Bengal and Calcutta Customs in the domestic Hockey for next 5 years.
Awards and Achievements
He was honored with a Padma Shri award in the year 1971 by the Government of India, and was the 6th Hockey player to receive the honor. He served the Indian Hockey team as a Team Manager for Asian Games 1974 and 1978, and also remained the member of the Selection Panel of the Hockey Federation for some time.