Sadness engulfed Indian Sports fraternity as legendary Indian Hockey Player Balbir Singh Dosanjh (popular name Balbir Singh Senior) breathed his last today, at Fortis Hospital, Mohali. He was semi-comatose for past week after being admitted in the hospital on May 8. The Legend is survived by his daughter Sushbir and three sons Kanwalbir, Karanbir, Gurbir.
Legends and memories never die, there are few things about Balbir Singh Dosanjh that will keep him alive. Here we share tales about Balbir Singh Dosanjh which has kept and will keep inspiring the country and its sports-persons.
Independent India’s First Olympic Gold & Record 4th
Yes, he was key to Indian Hockey Team’s campaign at the London 1948 Summer Games. It was a difficult time for the country impacted by partition. Hockey was no different. But, as they say “Come the toughest situations, Cometh the toughest generations”, Indian Hockey made it to historic fourth gold medal and first Olympic Gold Medal for an Independent India.
This tale about Balbir Singh Dosanjh will turn even more inspiring if you know that Balbir Singh played just two matches out of the five matches India played through to the highest pedal of podium, yet he was the top scorer of the tournament. And to make the memory even better, he scored most goals in the finals.
In group stage, India had defeated Austria, Argentina & Spain 8-0, 9-1 & 2-0. Balbir Singh played the second game and scored 6 out of 9 India had scored. In the semifinal, India won 2-1 against Netherlands to enter the title clash against host Great Britain. It was a lopsided affair in the final as the hosts had no answers to Balbir Singh’s golden brace which dominated the 4-0 win.
“The day our flag was hoisted in front of thousands at Wembley Stadium (1948) and the national anthem played, I felt like I was flying.”Balbir Singh Dosanjh
Independent India had won their first Olympic Gold medal defeating the country they were ruled by, in the finals and that too one-sided. That win wasn’t just a win, but a statement. And Balbir Singh was the architect of this win. Isn’t it something about Balbir Singh Dosanjh that’s unforgettable?
Read also: When India won Olympic Hockey Gold Medals
Indian Movie “Gold” Celebrates this win
In October 2016, Indian Actor Akshay Kumar announced a movie “Gold” to celebrate the Indian Olympic Gold Medal at the London 1948 Summer Games. The movie has Sunny Kaushal portraying a character Himmat Singh inspired by Legend Balbir Singh Dosanjh. The movie was released in 2018 and had a decent success at Box office.
Independent India’s Second Gold & Record 5th
Four years later, India was again at the Olympics, Helsinki 1952 Summer Games, and Balbir Singh was again the top scorer of the tournament. That was the magical aspect about Balbir Singh Dosanjh’s persona. Singh scored nine goals from the tournament and again scored the most goals in the finals.
India played three matches in the tournament viz. quarterfinal against Austria, semifinal against GB and final against Netherlands. They won 4-0 ( Singh scored one), 3-1 (Singh scored hat-trick) & 6-1 (Singh scored 5).
Flag-Bearer in the Opening Ceremony
Balbir Singh Dosanjh was India’s flag bearer in the opening ceremony of the 1952 Summer Games. Something which he earned during his previous appearance at the Olympics.
Listing in Guinness World Records
His 5 goals in the Olympic Tournament final at the Helsinki 1952 is added in Guinness World Records as “Most goals scored by an individual in an Olympic hockey final (male)”. Recorded memory this, about Balbir Singh Dosanjh!
Independent India’s Third Gold & Record 6th
Another four years and India won their consecutive 6th Olympic gold and 3rd as Independent nation at Melbourne 1956 Summer Games. Also, the 3rd Olympic gold that Balbir Singh won. Balbir Singh was the captain of the Indian team but sustained injury in the first match to sit out in other group matches, before joining the team in the semifinal.
India played five matches in the tournament viz. three group matches against Afghanistan, USA & Singapore, semifinal against East Germany and final against Pakistan. They won 14-0 ( Singh scored 5), 16-0 (Udham Singh scored 7) & 6-0 (Udham Singh & Charles Stephen scored 2-each), 1-0 (Udham Singh Kullar) & 1-0 (Randhir Singh Gentle). Balbir Singh scored 5 from the three matches he played.
Total Goals in Olympic Hockey Tournament
The Indian Legend scored 22 goals from 8 matches he played across the three Olympic Games.
First Padma Awardee from Sports
Almost a year after his third Olympic Games, Balbir Singh Dosanjh was bestowed the fourth highest civilian award of India, the Padma Shri, for his achievements in Field Hockey.
Lifetime Achievement Award
Another honor tale about Balbir Singh Dosanjh takes us to 2015. That year, Hockey India, the supreme body of Indian Hockey, conferred him with the Major Dhyan Chand Lifetime Achievement Award.
In Sports: Corona-Virus Impact On Top Sports Events
Only Indian to feature in The Olympic Journey
In 2012, the International Olympic Committee, in their promotion series to the Olympic movement, created a feature at the Olympic Museum in Lausanne, Switzerland. The feature with name “The Olympic Journey: The Story of the Games” had 16 Olympic Legends including Balbir Singh Dosanjh, Steve Redgrave, Olga Korbut, Kelly Holmes, Jesse Owens, Elana Meyer and Aleksandr Karelin. Great about Balbir Singh Dosanjh?
Mohali Hockey Stadium To Be Renamed
The Punjab government announced that the Mohali International Hockey Stadium will be renamed after the great Balbir Singh. Punjab Government has also written to PM Modi recommending Bharat Ratna for the Indian Hero. That’s the latest about Balbir Singh Dosanjh.
GOAT in Field Hockey?
There are a few players who have impacted the sport so much like him, Dhyan Chand & Udham Singh. The above stories about Balbir Singh Dosanjh will justify his claim at the top or the top 2. I leave it to you, is he the greatest of all time (GOAT) in Field Hockey?