Prithipal Singh was one of the greatest Indian Hockey players
of his time, and a fixture in the Indian team during her period of greatness in World Hockey when India posted 6 consecutive Gold medals at the Olympics.
Early life of Prithipal Singh
Prithipal Singh was born on 28 January 1932 in the historic Sikh city of Nankana Sahib (Now in Pakistan). Prithipal Singh was considered as the Penalty corner specialist. Powerful wrists and sharp reflexes were the attributes of Prithipal Singh as a player. The firmest and sticking shots produced by him were mostly helped to fetch goals, often winners. His physical assets could match any confident assertive person who acts as instigator. All these qualities in a combined manner made him a spectacular player. Acknowledging his prominence in the field of Hockey, first-ever Arjuna Award
to a hockey player was conferred to him in the year 1961, followed by the Padma Shri
in the year 1967.
Career of Prithipal Singh
Prithipal Singh participated in three Olympic outings, and was the highest goal scorer in all three. His legendary record in hockey was not restricted to the Olympics, and he was a commanding presence in almost all the levels of the game.
Prithipal played for the teams of Punjab University, Punjab
Police, Punjab State, Indian Railways
and finally for India. He rose to fame in the year 1957, when he was included in the Punjab team for the Na Hockey Championship held in Mumbai
. In the very next year, he was selected in Indian Hockey Federation team that toured the country. Prithipal Singh was also included in the IHF team that went to play in East Africa and toured Europe during 1959. He has also participated, in the Munich festival.
He was a natural choice for the 1960 Olympics held in Rome. Prithipal`s performance in the tournament excelled in every sense. In the 1962 Asian Games held in Jakarta, he represented India. In the year 1963, Prithipal Singh left Punjab Police to join the Railways and within two years, he was awarded the Railway Minister`s Medal for being the Best Railway Sportsman.
This Indian National Hockey Team
regained the Olympic title in the year 1964 held at Tokyo, where he was again top goal scorer. He has also participated at Asian Games held in Bangkok as a team member of the Shankar Lakshman
squad. This squad won the Gold
Medal at the tournament. In the three Olympics, in which he participated, Prithipal scored the biggest number of goals as a single player. In his time, he was regarded as the world`s best full-back. During the 1960 Olympics, in the matches against Denmark and Holland, he carried out hat tricks. And he scored 11 of India`s 22 goals during the 1964 Olympics.
In the year 1967, he captained India against the visiting German and Dutch teams. In the same year Prithipal Singh led an Indian national hockey team
to Madrid. He was selected as the Joint Captain with Gurbux Singh
, for the 1968 Olympics held in Mexico. At that tournament, India won a Bronze. In the year 1956, from Government Agriculture College, Ludhiana
, Prithipal Singh did his M.Sc, (Agriculture). In later days, when the College combined into the newly created Punjab Agriculture University, he started teaching there.
He was the first hockey player to be awarded the Arjuna Award, On May 20th, 1983; he was shot dead by one of his own militant student in the campus of the Punjab Agriculture University
. His death was universally condemned by sports lovers all over the world. Prithipal Singh was one of India`s most remarkable hockey players. He was adjudged the best full-back player in his first ever Olympic performance, and was christened the `King of the short corner`.
His legendary prowess and achievements distinguished him from others, and he is truly a luminary of the game.