The record regarding Hockey in India is a prestigious one. The Indian National Hockey Team has a track record as being one of the best teams in the whole world. In this land of rivers and farmers, many talented hockey players have grown and conquered the field. India has got 8 gold medals from the Olympics along with 2 silver and 1 bronze backing up the glory.
It is true that in India, hockey is defined by the name Major Dhyan Chand. This ‘wizard’ of hockey used his stick like a wand to create magic in the field with legendary shots. Few are aware about the fact that not Dhyan Chand, but Dhyan Singh was his actual name. His hard work and determination towards his game made him practice the strokes in the moonlit nights. Thus his co-players honoured him with the title ‘Chand’ i.e the moon in Hindi.
Out of those 8 gold medals of the Olympics, which India holds as a record, 3 of them is won by the Dhyan Chand alone. During his entire glorious career he went to score more than 400goals. Indian National Sportsday celebrated on the date of his birthday. Due to his unbelievable gaming technique and large number of goals, many accused him of using some tricks with his hockey stick. However, all the accusations were proved false later on.
The most honourable award in India, in the field of sports is named after this legendary sportsman- Dhyan Chand Award. He was awarded with the third most prestigious civilian award in India -the Padma Bhusan. Many will be surprised to know that he was offered a citizenship of Germany by the dictator Hitler, with the intention of using his talent for the betterment of the West German hockey team. This noble man did not accept the offer out of his sheer love and respect for his country, India.
Balbir Singh Sr.
While talking about hockey in India, the name Balbir Singh emerges very prominently. He was the first one to receive the Padma Shri Award in the sports field of India. He holds a record in the Olympics for scoring 5 goals in a match in the final which was won against the Netherlands. He bagged gold in the Olympics while giving his team proper leadership in Melbourne. He also led his team to win silver medals in the Asian Games, in the year of 1958 and 1962.
After retiring from his hockey career, he joined team India as a coach. With his skilled training and the hard work of the team India won the Hockey World Cup in 1975. The autobiographies written by Balbir Singh are The Golden Yardstick- In the Quest of Hockey Excellence and The Golden Hat-Trick. In the list of the most iconic Olympians, Balbir Singh was the one one representing India
Dhanraj Pilley is another name framed in the history of Indian hockey. He started his career in the year 1989 and went on playing at his best which resulted in him becoming the captain of the national team. Pillay holds a record for representing his country in the Olympics, the World Cup, and the Asian Games for four times. With his experienced leadership, the National Hockey Team managed to get victory in the Asian Games (1998) and the Asian Cup (2003).
During his entire captaincy he took the responsibility of getting the victory at the end of the game. His mesmerizing strokes and handling the stick are still a matter of astonishment for every hockey player in India. He retired after making the nation proud with his achievements in the year of 2004. Pilley is the only player who has received the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award. He was also honoured with the Arjuna Award.
Another Indian hockey talent was born in the year 1927 in Bilaspur which was back then situated in Chhattisgarh. Along with a co-player like Udham Singh, Leslie Claudius represented India in the Olympics and returned with silver and three gold medals. Leslie has set a benchmark by participating in the Olympics four times in a row. While making his country proud of him, he bagged one hundred caps. After putting the stick down and leaving the field he was appointed as the manager of the Indian Hockey Team in 1978. Leslie Claudius is titled by many as the best player from the half back position. He was honoured with the Padma Shri Award by the Indian Government.
Udham Singh is one of the most dexterous hockey players in the history of Indian Hockey. Unlike other sportsmen, Singh did not possess a very muscular tall body. Instead, he had a height if 5 ft and weight of about 58 kgs. But his obstacles with his physique could not hold him back from playing hockey and making history. He holds the record of getting the most number of medals (3 gold and 1 silver) in the Olympics along with the partnership of Leslie Claudius. He took part in the Olympics in the years 1952 ( Helsinki ), 1956 ( Melbourne) and 1964 (Tokyo).
In those years, the Indian team created history by achieving gold medals. He was also in the team when they bagged the silver medal in the Olympic Games in 1960 which was held at Rome. Thys Jalandhar born Sikh made it big in the international hockey. He missed his opportunity to play his first Olympic because of an acute injury in his finger.
This is why he was not able to get the title as the only Indian who went on to the Olympics for India in a row of five consecutive times. He took the responsibility of the Indian National Hockey team as a manager, after retiring from his career . Under his management the national team bagged a silver medal in the 1968 Olympics which was at Mexico.
Also the team became the champion in the Asian Games. He was honoured with the prestigious Arjuna Award in 1965. This immensely talented hockey player is an idol for many flourishing talents due to his contributions in the field of hockey in India.