The 29th of August is National Sports Day, commemorating the birth anniversary of hockey hero “Major Dhyan Chand.” In the years 1928, 1932, and 1936, he won four gold medals for India at the Olympics. He scored 400 goals in his career, which spanned 1926 to 1949. Dhyan Chand’s name is synonymous with hockey, much like Mohammed Ali’s is with football.
This year marks the 116th anniversary of Dhyan Chand’s birth.
From small town to international hockey grounds
Dhyanchand was born in Prayagraj, now Allahabad, on August 29, 1905. His father was a member of the army and used to play hockey for him. He entered the army at the age of 16.
One would be surprised to know that, Dhyan Chand was never interested in sports, despite his love for wrestling. In 1922, he enlisted in the Indian Army at the age of 16. Dhyan Chand’s dribbling abilities were spotted by Subedar-Major Bale Tiwari in the army, and he assisted him in improving his ability. Dhyan Chand was selected for the Indian Army team’s tour of New Zealand after participating in army hockey events.
He began his career in hockey in 1922 and was named “the wizard or the magician of hockey” at the time.
Some unknown facts about the legend
1. Dhyan Chand scored three goals in the 1936 Olympic final against Germany while playing the second half barefoot.
2. Adolf Hitler was impressed by Dhyan Chand’s game to an extent that he offered him German citizenship as well as a Colonel rank in his army, but Dhyan Chand declined.
3. Dhyan Chand is believed to have once been unable to score a goal against the other team while playing. After failing to score despite numerous attempts, he got into an argument with the referee over the length of the goal post, which was discovered to be in violation of international laws.
4. He was the chief coach at NIS Patiala and accompanied his pupils to Ahmedabad to attend the competition.
5. The Government of India produced a commemorative postage stamp and a First Day Cover in honor of Dhyan Chand. He is the only hockey player in India to be honored with a stamp.
6. The Indian government awarded him the Padma Bhushan, India’s third-highest civilian honor, in 1956.
7. In 2002, National Stadium in Delhi was renamed “Dhyan Chand National Stadium” in his honor. In London, the Indian Gymkhana Club is also named after him.
8. He was nominated for India’s highest civilian award, the Bharat Ratna, in 2014. As a result, he did not get the prize, and members of his family were disappointed by the government’s decision.
9. In his honor, the government established the ‘Dhyan Chand’ award as the country’s highest accolade for lifetime achievement in sports.
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