India celebrates its National Sports Day as a tribute to the greatest hockey player the world has ever seen; the birth anniversary of Major Dhyan Chand on August 29.
At the Mexico Olympics, when Bob Beaman jumped beyond 29 feet; the world record at that time being a few inches above 26 feet, the field judges went on to change the measuring tape to ensure that they were using the right measurement. Beamon’s ‘Leap to Infinity’ was attributed later to the low gravitational pull at the altitude at which the jump was taken. Legend has it that something similar happened with Dhyan Chand after a match in the Netherlands where his hockey stick was changed as people thought that he had some sort of a magnet in his stick that made the ball stick to it. In fact, it was a great tribute to his dribbling talent.
To summarize Dhyan Chand’s achievements, he played a major role in India winning gold medals in three successive Olympic Games; in 1928 (Amsterdam), 1932 (Los Angeles) and 1936 (Berlin) and scored 570 goals in his career which span from 1926 to 1949, during which he played 185 matches. The number of goals would exceed a thousand if his domestic matches were included in his total score. He indeed deserved titles like ‘The Wizard’ and ‘The Magician’. It is a result of his exceptional career that India’s highest sports award in any sportsperson’s lifetime achievements is named after this great sportsman as ‘Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna Award’.
Gp Capt Achchyut Kumar has been associated with The Teenager Today for more than 50 years; initially as a reader and later as a contributor on varied topics. Having worked in the Indian Air Force and in India’s oldest company, Forbes & Company Limited, he is now practising as a lawyer in Nainital High Court.