On Friday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi stated that the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award will now be called the Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna Award.
Dhyan Chand – the man who charmed everyone with his smooth stick movement. He was nicknamed ‘the hockey wizard.’
Dhyan Chand, the hockey wizard, was born on August 29, 1905, in Allahabad, to Sharadha and Sameshwar Singh. He was enamored with hockey from an early age, and he, like his father, enlisted in the army at the age of 16 & continued playing his beloved sport.
Celebrated for his unparalleled goal-scoring ability, he was a Phenomenal field hockey player who scored over 1000 goals during his illustrious career spanning over 20 years ( 1926–1948).
In 1956, he was honored with Padma Bhushan, the third-highest civilian award of the country. In India, Dhyan Chand’s birthday, August 29, is celebrated as National Sports Day to honor the hockey ace.
Dhyan Chand was a member of India’s first-ever Olympic hockey team. India’s golden boy, he won three Olympic gold medals for the country. He made billions proud & delighted back home.
By scoring 29 goals in five games, the Indian hockey team earned their first-ever Olympic gold medal. The hockey whiz Dhyan Chand scored 14 goals, including a hat-trick in the final against the Netherlands. It was India’s first Olympic medal in hockey.
Los Angeles 1932
The Indian hockey team initially defeated Japan 11-1. Dhyan Chand’s younger brother, Roop Singh, scored ten goals and the wizard added eight to lead India to a stunning 24-1 victory over the US and a second consecutive Olympic gold medal.
The Indian hockey team won a hat-trick of Olympic golds in Berlin, 1936, led by Dhyan Chand. India tallied 38 goals in five games.
The Indians were unable to get through the German defense in the first half of the final against Germany. The German goalkeeper clashed with Dhyan Chand during one of his rallies, and the goalkeeper’s hockey stick injured him in the face. Dhyan Chand had to be helped from the field after collapsing. Meantime, the Germans rushed and scored a goal. Germany had a one-goal lead at halftime. He recovered after losing a few teeth and then chose to switch from stud-soled shoes to his usual rubber-soled canvas PT shoes.
India won thanks to Dhyan Chand’s second hat-trick in the Olympic finals. Hitler walked out of the match in the middle of it. India won by a score of 8 to 1 against Germany.
Chand’s last international match was in 1948.
The eight-goal victory over Hitler’s Germany
Dhyan Chand was the subject of intense media criticism. The next day, after India defeated Hungary 4-0, the Statesman’ reported, “Most disappointing was the revelation that Dhyan Chand, the world’s greatest center forward, is past his best days…”
India also defeated the USA 7-0 and Japan 9-0. In a practice match, the Germans defeated the Indian hockey team 4-1. The press forecasted that “if Germany wins, it will be a lesson to India that she deserves.”
After France was thrashed 10-0 and Germany was beaten 8-1 in the final, the tone and tenor of the debate shifted, with Berlin’s ‘Morning Post’ praising India’s performance.
As per lore, Dhyan Chand wished to enhance his speed and mobility, therefore he wore rubber-soled footwear instead of traditional spiked footwear on the grassy patch. It enabled him to dribble at a high rate. He tallied 12 points, and the match report in the ‘Morning Post’ had some memorable lines.
“These players it is said glided over turf as if it is a skating rink and the flickering sticks had the Japanese, normally so agile, mesmerized.”
During the same Olympics, Berlin’s entire city was plastered with banners proclaiming- “Visit the hockey stadium to watch the Indian magician Dhyan Chand in action.”
GLORY OF DHYAN CHAND
Dhyan Chand is claimed to have once failed to score a goal against the other team while playing. After failing to score despite numerous attempts, he complained with the referee over the goal post’s measurement, which was proven to be inconsistent with the official width of a goal post under international standards.
A tube station in London has been named after Dhyan Chand. An Astro-turf pitch at the Indian Gymkhana Club in London is also named after him.
In honor of Dhyan Chand, the Indian government released a commemorative postage stamp and a First Day Cover. He is the only Indian hockey player to be honored with a stamp.
Dhyan Chand was such a hockey prodigy that authorities all across the world broke his stick to see if it contained a magnet.