National Sports Day, a celebration of Dhyan Chand’s wizardry

Meet the Champion events in over 25 cities, felicitations, interactions with sportspersons, and various functions were organised on Monday throughout the country to commemorate the birth anniversary of the greatest-ever sports star, the legendary hockey player Dhyan Chand.

The day, celebrated as National Sports Day had Prime Minister Narendra Modi and a host of politicians and celebrities paying rich tributes to Dhyan Chand, who was born on this day in 1905 in Allahabad in the then undivided United Provinces of Agra and Oudh in British India.

Known as “Hockey Wizard”, or The Magician, Dhyan Chand was blessed with superb ball control, dribbling skills and brilliant reading of the game that helped him dominate the sport during an international career spanning from 1926 to 1949.

Dhyan Chand represented India in three Olympic Games — 1926 Amsterdam, 1932 Los Angeles and 1936 Berlin — and won gold medals in all three. In a career spanning more than two decades, he played 185 matches, scoring 570 goals. According to his autobiography Goal, Dhyan Chand, known as Dadda or Dada in the hockey and sports community, he scored over 1000 goals in his entire domestic and international career.

His exploits in the three Olympics, especially in the 1936 Games in Berlin which were organised by Hitler’s Nazi Germany as a tool of propaganda. India played Germany in the final and beat them handsomely as Hitler left the stadium midway as Dhyan Chand’s India took control of the match.

After retiring from hockey and the Indian Army, took over as chief hockey coach at the National Institute of Sports, Patiala for several years. He died on December 3, 1979, from liver cancer at All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Delhi (AIIMS).

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