(Last Updated on : 29/11/2012)
Balbir Singh Sr., originally known as Balbir Singh Dosanjh, is a retired field hockey player. He was amongst the six players with the same name who had played for the Indian hockey team. Thus in order to distinguish from the others, he changed his name to Balbir Singh Sr. Singh has been a member of three Olympic gold medal winning Indian National team. Balbir Singh Sr. has even coached the national team in Men's Hockey World Cup 1971.
Early Life Of Balbir Singh Sr.
Balbir Singh Sr. was born on October 19, 1924 in Haripur Khalsa
. He was the son of the freedom fighter Dalip Singh
. His grandparents (paternal) are Dosanjh, who are actually belonging from Jat tribe of Kutch
with an Indo-Scythian origin. He did his schooling from Dev Samag High School Moga. Then he went on to complete his graduation from D M College and Khalsa College, Amritsar
He was introduced to hockey at a very young age. Initially, he played hockey for Khalsa College, and taught and trained by the Coach Harbail Singh. Balbir Singh Sr. also got selected to represent Punjab University. Even though he was reluctant, but later he received much success and popularity for his excellent performance. He also played for the Punjab team, and in 1947, won the national hockey championship.
Career Of Balbir Singh Sr
In the 1948 London Olympics, Balbir Singh Sr. made his debut in with the second match against Argentina. India won the match by a huge margin, and Balbir's performance was outstanding. In the final match against Britain, India won again, Balbir Singh Sr. proved himself one more time, scoring 2 out of the 4 goals. Balbir was made the Vice-Captain at the Helsinki Olympics 1952, under K.D. Singh Babu's Captaincy. Balbir played exceptionally well in the Semi-Final match against Britain where he scored all the 3 goals. And in the final match, Balbir scored 5 out of the six goals, leading India to a gold medal win. Balbir Singh Sr. was given the honour of being the flag bearer of the Indian Olympic Contingent.
Balbir Singh Sr. captained the Indian Hockey team in the 1956 Melbourne Olympics, scoring 5 goals against Afghanistan.
He also played at the1958 Tokyo Asian Games where the Indian hockey team won silver medal. He was also included in the Indian National Hockey team
at 1962 Jakarta Asian Games. He also coached the national team for the World Cup Hockey 1971. The team won a silver medal. He was also the Manager of the Indian Hockey
team at the 1975 World Cup Hockey.
Awards Of Balbir Singh Sr
In the year 1957, he became the first hockey player to be awarded the Padma Shri
. He also got the honour of lighting the sacred flame at the 1982 Asian Games, New Delhi
. He was also judged as the Player of the Century in 1982, which was determined by a poll. He had also won 3 gold medals in the Olympic Games in 1948, 1952 and 1956. He achieved silver medals at the 1958 and 1962 Asian games. In 2006 he was named the "Best Sikh Hockey Player". He himself described as a secular nationalist player of the country. He also stated that he was not convinced about the idea of having a religion-based list of players, but accepted the award ("Best Sikh Hockey Player") since he believed it might be good for the promotion of Indian hockey.
Personal life Of Balbir Singh S
Balbir Singh Sr. was married in 1946 to Sushil, who was from Lahore. The couple has three sons (Karanbir, Kanwalbir and Gurbir) and a daughter named Sushbir. He wrote his autobiography named 'The Golden Hat Trick' that was published in 1977.