Balbir Singh Senior is a name that has a special place in the history of Indian sports. He was the legend of Indian hockey who painted the golden days of an Indian sports era. Balbir Singh Dosanjh was born on 19th October 1924 at Haripur Khalsa, Punjab.
Passion for Hockey:
Balbir started playing Hockey at an early age. His inspiration was the Berlin Olympics 1936 Gold Medal winning Indian Hockey team.
He initially played for his college team – Sikh National College, Lahore but the Coach of Khalsa College Amritsar, Harbail Singh persuaded him to transfer to Khalsa College Amritsar. Thereafter he moved to Khalsa College in 1942 and began training and practice under Harbail’s guidance.
Balbir Singh’s contribution to field hockey, especially for independent India, was unparalleled. Today’s generation might not be aware of this fact.
Balbir Singh Sr. was a giant in his sport and the most decorated athlete in Indian sports history with Olympic medals in 1948, 1952 and 1956 Summer Games.
According to Balbir Singh Sr’s daughter, Sushbir Bhomia, her father’s biography is very well researched.
“An interesting fact which has come to light is that the writer has traced my father’s lineage to famous Sikh warrior Baba Bidhi Chand Ji, who served the sixth Sikh Guru Hargobind Ji,” she told PTI.
Baba Bidhi Chand was an excellent horse rider and even Balbir Sr has told his biographer, who has 37 books on different subjects to his credit, that horse riding came naturally to him.
“An Indian fan of my father who lived in England had posted the photograph at the Dosanjh address (native village of Sr) as he wanted an autograph on the picture.
“It was at that point in time that Principal Sarwan Singh started to write the biography though he told my dad that he had firmed up his mind to write about him much earlier,” Sushbir said.
Awards & Achievements:
- Member of three Olympic gold medal-winning teams (1948, 1952 and 1956 Olympic Games)
- Silver Medal at the Asian Games 1958 and 1962
- Olympic record for most goals scored by an individual in men’s hockey final
- He was the first hockey player who received Padma Shri in 1957
- Along with Gurdev Singh was featured on a stamp issued in 1958 by the Dominican Republic to commemorate the 1956 Melbourne Olympics.
- The Sacred Flame at the Asian Games 1982 held at New Delhi
- Named the Best Sikh Hockey Player in 2006
- The Olympic Museum exhibition honoured Balbir Singh
- Hockey India conferred upon him the Major Dhyan Chand Lifetime Achievement Award in 2015.
Legend Balbir Singh Sr breathed his last at the age of 96 on May 25, 2020.
Former Indian hockey team captain MP Ganesh on Monday, 25 May 2020 expressed grief over the demise of Balbir Singh Sr, who passed away this morning at the age of 95 after battling multiple health issues. Ganesh said Singh was a ‘very big’ hockey player and he learned a lot from him.
“Balbir Singh was really a great person and a very big hockey player in India. He has three gold medals in his feather and was such a nice person,” Ganesh told ANI.
“He always liked me. I learned a lot under his guidance. Today, he is not with us, which is really sad. I hope his soul rests in peace and my condolences are with his family. It is a sad day for hockey,” he added.