Indian hockey legend Balbir Singh Kullar passed away aged 77, Hockey India confirmed on 1 March. The former Police Officer from Punjab and two-time Olympic medalist passed away on 28 February, 2020 at Sansarpur, and will be remembered for his immense contribution in the growth of the sport in India.
“We are deeply saddened by the demise of our former hockey player and a two-time Olympic medallist, Balbir Singh Kullar. We send out our heartfelt condolences to his family,” the governing body in India tweeted.
We are deeply saddened by the demise of our former hockey player and a two-time Olympic medallist, Balbir Singh Kullar.
— Hockey India (@TheHockeyIndia) March 1, 2020
Chief Coach of Indian Women’s Hockey team too expressed his regret via twitter.
My condolences to the family of Mr. Balbir Singh Kullar pic.twitter.com/DAsVeJEq0V
— Sjoerd Marijne (@SjoerdMarijne) March 1, 2020
Kullar played his first international hockey match way back in 1963 after a string of impressive showings in the domestic circuit. He was the skipper of the All India Schools during 1957-1960 and was also a member of the Combined University Team. He represented Punjab and also played for the hockey team of Mohun Bagan.
For the Indian team the inside forward toured Belgium, East Africam East Germany, England, The Netherlands, Italy, Kenya, West Germany and New Zealand. Kullar’s biggest achievement on the field came in 1966, when he was a part of the gold medal winning Indian team that won the 1966 Asian Games in Bangkok. He was also a member of the Indian side that won bronze medals at the Tokyo Olympics in 1964 and in the 1968 Mexico Summer Games.
Kullar joined the Punjab Armed Police in 1962, and became an Assistant Sub-Inspector of Punjab Police the following year.
After hanging up his boots, the athlete became the Deputy Superintendent of the Police in 1981, and the Indian Police Service Officer in 1987. He was also awarded with the Arjuna Award in 1999 and also won the Padma Shri ten years later, in 2009.
Kullar is survived by his wife, his son and two daughters.