Games & medals
Los Angeles 1932
Dhyan Chand SINGH biography
A legend of Indian hockey, Dhyan Chand is considered to be one of the best players to have ever played the sport.
Star of the Indian hockey team that dominated the sport in the years before World War II, the prolific Dhyan Chand played a key role in India’s three consecutive gold hauls at the Olympic Games - in 1928, 1932 and 1936.
Such was Dhyan Chand’s mastery of the game and so dazzling was his ball control that he earned the epithets 'Hockey Wizard' and 'The Magician'.
Dhyan Chand started playing hockey seriously during his stint with the British Indian Army and between 1922 and 1926, he competed in numerous army hockey tournaments and regimental games.
Born Dhyan Singh in Allahabad, he was called ‘Chand’ - moon in Hindi - by his peers because he would often practice at night under the moonlight after his duty hours.
He had impressed observers of the game during his days in the army and when the newly-formed Indian Hockey Federation (IHF) decided to send a team for the 1928 Olympics in Amsterdam, Dhyan Chand was called for the trials.
He made it to the Olympic team and hit the ground running. Dhyan Chand scored 14 goals in five matches to become the top-scorer of the tournament, nine more than the next best, with the Indian hockey team emerging undefeated to win the gold medal.
No trials were needed for Dhyan Chand when the Indian team for the 1932 Olympics was selected and this time the squad included his brother Roop Singh as well.
At the Los Angeles Games, the Indian field hockey player scored 12 goals in only two games and was outdone only by his brother, who had 13 to his name.
In that edition, the Indian hockey team scored 24 goals in a match - a record that stood firmly for seven decades - against the USA, 10 off Roop Singh’s stick and eight from Dhyan Chand.
In the subsequent 1936 Olympic Games, Dhyan Chand headed to Berlin as captain of the Indian hockey team.
Inspired by their skipper, India dominated again as they remained undefeated to claim the gold medal, upstaging hosts Germany 8-1 in the final.
Dhyan Chand led from the front in the summit clash with three goals of his own even though he broke a tooth after the opposition resorted to rough tactics to contain him. He also reportedly played barefoot in the second half of the match to up his pace on the field.
He ended the Berlin Games with a total of 11 goals in five matches. In all, he scored 37 goals in 12 matches at the Games across three editions and three Olympic gold medals.
With World War II breaking out soon after, Dhyan Chand was in his forties by the time an independent Indian hockey team participated in the next Olympic Games in 1948. This time, he wasn’t a part of the squad.
Dhyan Chand retired from the Indian Army as a lieutenant in August 1956, after 34 years of service, and was consequently honoured with the Padma Bhushan award, India's third-highest civilian honour.
While the Gazette of India recognises Dhyan Chand as a lieutenant when he retired, he is generally stated as ‘Wizard Major’ Dhyan Chand in India. His birthday, August 29, is also celebrated as National Sports Day in India.
"Dhyan Chand has the same aura attached to hockey, like Donald Bradman has in cricket," former Olympian Gurbux Singh told Rediff.com.
Dhyan Chand passed away on December 3, 1979. succumbing to liver cancer but will always be remembered as one of the greatest hockey players.