Today we look back at one of India’s greatest prides, Dhyan Chand (1905-1979), through some rather interesting facts.
What has not been said or written about Major Dhyan Chand before? Almost certainly the greatest hockey player of all time, he led the Indian team to three successive Olympic Gold medals (1928 Amsterdam, 1932 Los Angeles and 1936 Berlin). Legend has it that after seeing him play in the 1936 Berlin Olympics, Hitler made Dhyan Chand an offer which Dhyan Chand refused: a German citizenship and a higher army post. Dhyan Chand was already a Major in the British Indian Army at that time and politely turned down the request.
We bring to you some more incredible facts about this incredible personality; arguably the greatest sportsperson India has ever given birth to.
1. Reason of his name: Born as Dhyan Singh, he was called Dhyan Chand by his teammates because he used to practice hockey under moonlight at night (because there were no floodlights back then). Some dedication! Chand incidentally means “moon” in Hindi.
2. Hockey stick or a magnet? Officials in Netherlands broke his hockey stick to find whether there was a magnet inside — such was the possession skill of Dhyan Chand.
3. India’s National Sports Day is celebrated on 29th August, the birthday of Dhyan Chand.
4. Appreciation from a legend: Arguably the greatest cricketer of all time, Sir Don Bradman on seeing Dhyan Chand said, “You score goals like runs”.
5. The statues: It is said that after 1936 Olympics, the residents of Vienna were so impressed by Dhyan Chand’s skills, they set up a statue of Dhyan Chand with four hands and four sticks in honour of his incredible skill. He was famously known as the “Wizard”. In India, at the National Stadium near India Gate, New Delhi, there is another statue of this legend.
6. The perfectionist: Once it happened that Dhyan Chand was unable to score in a match. He debated with the referee about the width of the goal post, and it turned out that he had been right all along! Indeed, the measurements were found to be not tallying with the international standards, shocking all.
7. Accolades: Dhyan Chand was awarded with the Padma Bhushan in 1956, and the call for a Bharat Ratna has been on since, even after his death. Now that we have seen a sportsperson receive the Bharat Ratna, maybe a posthumous award is not far away?
8. Dhyan Chand’s personal favourite hockey match is the 1933 Beighton Cup final between Calcutta Customs and Jhansi Heroes, which Jhansi Heroes won in a thrilling encounter.
9. The Dhyan Chand Award, initiated by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports from 2002, is given as a symbol of lifetime achievement in the field of sports and games.
And finally, here is an amazing fact that would surely amaze you.
10. Repeating the heroics within a week: He scored more than 400 goals in his international career, including 8 goals in a 24-1 drubbing of the United States in the 1932 Los Angeles Olympic final. In that match, Dhyan Chand’s brother Roop Singh scored 10 goals too. People used to call them “Hockey twins”. That match remains the biggest margin of victory in an international hockey match till date. However, few know that India repeated the same scoreline after a few days only. Having finished the Olympics in flying colors, India embarked on a tour in US and they played a match on 20 August against a United States XI, almost the same team that they had faced in Los Angeles. Even after loaning its second keeper Arthur Hind, for a half, the team won 24-1, the same scoreline as before.
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