The Sporting Heroes of India - #2 Dhyan Chand (Field Hockey)

Dhyan Chand, a name as synonymous to hockey (field hockey), as Pele is to football, Jordan is to Basket ball or Mohammed Ali is to Boxing. A legend, who was the architect of the Golden Era of  Indian Hockey. His legacy inspired a lot of players to take up hockey as a game and make India proud.

Thou during his heydays, India was not independent. The country was short of self-esteem, confidence and only politicians or revolutionaries were it's heroes. There was little room for sports. However, Dhyan Chand, born in a humble family of Prayagraj, joined British Army, and was enlisted as a sepoy (private) in 1st Brahmans, a regiment, named after communities those days. He was selected to represent British India in Olympics. It was start of an era, where India (including British India)  was a brutal force in the sport, winning 7 out of 8 Olympics Gold Medals.

Dhyan Chand was terrific in the field, dribbling was such précised and controlled that it appeared that he was playing with a sticky stick, which earned him nicknames like "The Wizard" and "The Magician". In the finals of 1936 Summer Olympics, Dhyan Chand was on roll, hitting three out of eight goals and architecting several others. India scored eight goals, winning the goal medal by defeating hosts 8-1. Adolf Hitler offered a senior rank in the German Army, which was refused politely by Dhyan Chand  Another unverified story is about Adolf Hitler checking Dhyan Chand's stick, as if there is something special about his stick.

Dhyan Chand was not a mere hockey player or captain. He was a vital force for Indian Field hockey, whose impact was such, that India became a Hockey Super Power in Olympics. His legacy was carried on by several players in upcoming generations, Roop Singh (his younger brother), Dhanraj Pillai, Mukesh Kumar till Gagan Ajit Singh, who followed the aggressive and positive goal oriented game. Introduction of Astroturf, changes in game rules, newer equipment and bad policies of Indian Hockey Federation, impacted the Indian hockey. Wonder, if it had happened with a player like Dhyan Chand was there, who defied the atrocities of colonial era, paucity of privileges and scarcity of resources.

It is a shame that the legend was not honored the highest civilian award, when the sportsmen became eligible for it. If any sportsman of India deserves "Bharat Ratna", it has to be Dhyan Chand. Getting decorated by the award, Dhyan Chand will honor the award itself. Another shame, or Irony, is that the highest Sports Award of India could have been named after Dhyan Chand is named after a politician.

Awarded or not, Awards named after or not, Maj Dhyan Chand is truly Bharat Ratna!!!


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