Indian Hockey Legend Charanjit Singh, won gold for India, Passes Away

Charanjit Singh
Photo Credit: Deccan Herald

Charanjit Singh, who was the captain of India’s 1964 Tokyo Olympics gold medal-winning hockey team, passed away on Thursday at the age of 93 after suffering a heart attack. He was also a part of the silver-winning team in the 1960 edition of the Games and the 1962 Asian Games. 

In 1964, the Charajit-led Indian hockey team beat Pakistan in Tokyo by 1-0 to bag the gold medal. The victory was of so much significance because, only four years ago, India lost their first-ever Olympics finals against the arch-rivals. 

In an emotional exchange, Gurbux Singh, a member of the 1964 Tokyo Olympics team, said, ”A captain who brought luck to the team, a calm yet authoritative player and above all a humble human being, that’s what my captain Charanjit Singh was and we would like the future generations to know about him.” 

Charanjit completed his BSc degree in Agriculture degree from Government Agriculture College, Lyallpur in pre-partition Punjab. He had been associated with hockey since he was in school. He even represented Punjab University and Punjab Police. It was in 1958 when he was first picked for the national team.

He was an integral part of the Indian team for the Rome Olympics where the centre-half assisted Ragbhir Bhola, Prithipal and Jaswant Singh. However, he could not be a part of the final against Pakistan due to a fracture. Thereafter, Charanjit would feature in the Indian team regularly from 1958 to 1965.

Former hockey player Harbinder Singh shared his first impression of the captain during his debutant tour to New Zealand in 1961. 

“There were senior players in the squad like Udham Singh, Prithipal Singh, Gurdev Singh, Darshan Singh and it was a two-month-long tour. Charanjit would talk to all these senior players with ease. He would always make a point to call us and talk. During the tour, we would travel almost every day and Charanjit would lead the team in singing his favourite Mohammed Rafi song ‘Watan ki rah main watan ke naujawan shaheed ho’ from the movie Shaheed. The team won all the three tournaments he captained and he would always start this song in the team bus to motivate us all,” said Harbinder.

Charanjit was a Dean of student welfare at Punjab Agricultural University and Hisar Agricultural University and later he became a Director of Sports at Himachal University.

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