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Wizard of Hockey and India at the Olympics

Updated: Dec 13, 2020

By M. Birundha, IV year M.B.B.S., JSS Medical College, Mysore


To me, hockey has almost been a religion” – Dhyan Chand

Major Dhyan Chand was born on August 29, 1905, in Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh. He was a famous hockey player. He is considered as the best hockey player that Indians had ever seen and also known as ‘wizard of hockey’. His father Dhyan Chand is an army man and played hockey for the Indian Army. By following his footsteps, Dhyan Chand also followed the Indian Army and also in the hockey team. His outstanding performance in hockey makes others raise their eyebrows. His real name was ‘Dhyan Singh’. In Hindi ‘Chand’ means ‘The Moon’, after his duty hours he used to play in the night; he used to wait for the moon to come out for visibility. Hence he was called ‘Dhyan Chand’ by his colleagues.

In the 1928 Olympic, India won its country’s first Olympic gold medal by defeating the Netherlands in the final by scoring 3-0. Chand didn’t play in the final, as he was ill at that time. He was the top scorer of the tournament, with fourteen goals in five matches.

In the 1932 Olympics, India won the USA by 24-1 in the final and it was a world record at that time but later it was broken. Chand scored eight goals in the final.

In the 1936 Olympics, Dhyan Chand had scored 33 goals in 12 matches. In the final, until the half time India scored only one goal, afterwards, Dhyan Chand removed his shoes to speed up and he scored six goals and India won Germany by 8-1. It was held that Adolf Hitler was really impressed with Dhyan Chand’s skills and he offered him German citizenship and a position of Colonel in the German Army. But Dhyan Chand refused the offer and said that he would only work for India.

On August 29, 1956, he retired from the Indian Army. In the same year, he was awarded ‘Padma Bhushan’. He is the only hockey player so far to have been awarded the ‘Padma Bhushan’. He became the Chief Hockey Coach at the National Institute of Sports, Patiala. On December 3, 1979, he died due to liver cancer at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Delhi. His birthday August 29 was celebrated as ‘The National Sports Day’ when the Hon’ble President of India gave away the all-sports award. Every sports day ‘Dhyan Chand Award’, officially known as ‘Dhyan Chand Award for Lifetime Achievement in Sports and Games’ was also awarded to the lifetime achievers in sports.

In 1928 Olympic received one gold but even after 88 years at 2016 Olympic, India didn’t get any gold medal. India has participated in the Olympics since 1900 but still, we received only nine gold, seven silver and twelve bronze. While comparing the medals won with the population, there is no worse performer than India. A country which has more than 1.3 billion people can win only one or two medals in the Olympics. It doesn’t mean that Indians are not talented in sports. India is dominating in Cricket and Kabaddi. There are many talented people in the remote villages but they were undiscovered. According to the 2011 census, the urban population in India is over 370 million people; it is equivalent to the USA and Russia combined.

Then why is there a lack of medals? The main reason is Indian parents gave a lot of importance only to academics and not to sports. Sports were never a priority for the majority of parents and kids. Although India has good academic schools and universities, it didn’t have good sports facilities and good sports academies. India didn’t have well-developed playgrounds and sports pieces of equipment. Another main reason is corruption; it was held that in India only the people who are ready to give more money to the officials will only get the chance to play. So many talented youngsters are not interested in participating in sports.

These things should be changed; the talent of a student should be identified in the primary school itself. It is the duty of the physical education teacher in every school. Then only India can achieve many medals in sports.

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