August 29, a day on the calendar when India recognizes and honors its sports personalities for their exemplary performances. However, did you know, the day is dedicated to India’s Hockey Wizard- Major Dhyan Chand. The man who gave India three Olympics Gold Medal- 1928, 1932, 1936.
It is said, Adolf Hiter was so impressed with Dhyan Chand’s performance in the 1936 Olympics final against Germany that he offered him a higher rank in the German Army.
” What else do you do when not playing hockey?”
“I am in the Indian Army.”
“Come to Germany, we will give you the best rank.”
“India is my country and I am fine there.”
THE WIZARD – Dhyanchand had joined the Indian Army at the age of 16. It was there he started playing Hockey. His superb ball controlling ability earned him “The Wizard”. According to his autobiography, he has a total of 570 goals in 185 international matches from 1926. He retired in 1949.
BTW, since he practiced under the moonlight for hours, he started being called “Chand’ by all.
Here are some of his achievements, we Indians must be proud of.
Major scored 14 goals in the 1928 Olympics in Amsterdam. This includes the two goals he scored in the final against Holland.
At the LA Olympics in 1932, Chand ended as the second-highest scorer with 8 goals.
In the Los Angels Olympics 1932, India won 24-1 against the USA, a world record (until it was broken in 2003). Dhyan Chand scored 8 goals while his brother Roop Singh scored 10 goals.
He wore rubber slippers in the 1936 Olympics final and scored three goals against Germany in the final. India won the match 8-1. Hitler was left amazed by his performance.
Even after 40 years of age, he managed to net 68 goals in 22 matches.
He was awarded the third-highest civilian award, Padma Bhushan in 1956.
Indian Hockey Federation appointed Dhyan Chand as the Captian of team India for the New Zealand tour in December 1934. India played 48 matches on this tour, Dhyan Chand played 23 matches and scored a total of 201 goals.
In 1948, he played his last match leading the Rest of India team against the Bengal. The match ended in a draw.
Dhyan Chand’s autobiography ‘Goal’ was published in 1952.
After his retirement from professional sports, he taught at coaching camps. He was appointed as the Chief Hockey Coach at the National Institute of Sports in Patiala.
Like every beginning has an end, Major too couldn’t escape it. Major was born on August 29, 1905, in Prayagraj (Allahabad), Uttar Pradesh. Sadly, India lost its gem due to liver cancer. He breathed his last on December 3, 1979, in Jhansi.
In his honor, the government of India renamed The National Stadium in Delhi to Dhyan Chand National Stadium in 2002. Moreover, the British Government named an Astroturf hockey pitch in London after Chand.