The National Sports Day is celebrated on 29 August every year to mark the birth anniversary of hockey legend Dhyan Chand. The greatest hockey player India has had, he played a major role in the country winning three successive gold medals at the Olympic Games.
On the occasion of his 114th birth anniversary, we take a look at an amazing career that earned him the sobriquet of “the Wizard of hockey”.
- Born – 29 August 1905 in Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh
- Hockey Career – Three Olympic gold medals (1928, 1932, 1936); over 400 international goals for India
- National honours – Padma Bhushan in 1956
- Died – 3 December 1979
Dhyan Chand loved wrestling as a child. He took to hockey after joining the Indian Army in 1922, and soon made his mark in army sports meets. He was a member of the Indian team that toured New Zealand in 1926 and returned victorious.
He top scored with 14 goals in the 1928 Amsterdam Olympic Games, where India won the gold medal after defeating hosts Netherlands in the final. He was a key member of the team at the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics as well; India defeated the United States of America (USA) 24-1 in the final.
Dhyan Chand continued to stamp his authority on the game at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, where he led the team. Such was his dominance that he scored three goals in the finals against Germany in the 1936 Berlin Olympics; India won the match 8-1 to get the gold medal.
World War 2 meant that the Olympic Games were not held in 1940 and 1944. Dhyan Chand had retired from international hockey by the time the 1948 Games were held in London. India created history by defeating Great Britain, their erstwhile rulers, to win the hockey gold medal a year after becoming independent.
The National Stadium for hockey in Delhi was renamed the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium in his honour in 2002.
Hockey Ran In The Family
The man whose birth anniversary is celebrated as National Sports Day belongs to a family that has given several other players to Indian hockey.
His younger brother Roop Singh was a member of the team that won the hockey gold medal at the 1932 and 1936 Olympic Games. He scored 10 goals against the United States of America (USA) in the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics; India won the match 24-1.
His son, Ashok Kumar, also represented India in hockey. Kumar scored the winning goal against Pakistan in the 1975 World Cup Hockey final in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. He was also a member of the Indian team that won a hockey bronze medal at the 1972 Olympic Games.
Messages On National Sports Day
Prime Minister Narendra Modi was among the first to acknowledge Major Dhyan Chand’s contribution to sports in India.
Greetings to all sports enthusiasts on National Sports Day. Tributes to the phenomenal hockey player, Major Dhyan Chand Ji on his birth anniversary.
I urge people to give priority to sports and fitness related activities, which will contribute towards a healthier India.
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) August 29, 2018
Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports Rajyavardhan Rathore too joined in.
Today, we commemorate Major Dhyan Chand's Birth Anniversary as #NationalSportsDay. Let us give our tributes to one of India's greatest sports icons by inculcating sports as part of our lifestyle. pic.twitter.com/fOcMqHRejZ
— Rajyavardhan Rathore (@Ra_THORe) August 29, 2018
Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik referred to the Hockey World Cup scheduled to be held in state capital Bhubaneswar in November.
Tribute to hockey legend Major Dhyan Chand on #NationalSportsDay, commemorating the wizard’s life and his everlasting legacy in Indian hockey. As Odisha gets ready for #HWC2018, we remember how he earned an identity for the game in the country and abroad. pic.twitter.com/eFE2KK77hh
— Naveen Patnaik (@Naveen_Odisha) August 29, 2018