In a bid to honour in recognition of his superlative contribution to Indian sports, Punjab Chief Minister has requested Prime Minister Narendra Modi, seeking Bharat Ratna for the legendary centre-forward, Balbir Singh. “Wrote to PM Narendra Modiji, requesting to award Bharat Ratna to Shri Balbir Singh (Sr) for his outstanding performance in Hockey. He was a 3 time Olympic gold champion having played an imp role in 1948, 1952 & Captain of 1956 win. He is the greatest ever centre-forward,” Captain Amarinder tweeted.
One of the country’s tallest athletes, Balbir Singh became the only Indian among 16 legendary sportsmen chosen by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) across the history of modern Olympics. His world record for most goals scored by a player in the men’s hockey still remains unsurpassed. Having scored a total of five goals in India’s scintillating 6-1 victory over Netherlands in the historical 1952 Helsinki Olympic match, Balbir was the flag-bearer of the Indian contingent. The Olympics that year saw him at his imperious best. He scored nine of India’s 13 goals in the event, firmly displaying his credentials as probably the best centre-forward of the time. Singh was a part of the three Olympic gold medal-winning teams in London (1948), Helsinki (1952), and Melbourne (1956). Responsible for bringing laurels to the country, he was conferred with Padma Shree in the year 1957.
Captain Amarinder, who accords immense respect to sports and sportspersons of the country, tagged his letter to the tweet and requested Prime Minister to consider awarding Bharat Ratna, the highest civilian award of the country, to the three-time Olympic gold medallist. Amarinder earlier met the ailing former player to present to him the Maharaja Ranjit Singh Award at the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research and, after felicitating around 100 other players, including veterans, with the award at an event in Chandigarh.
Outside the game of cricket, there are several rising stars in the sports firmament who have brought laurels to the country across different fields, including late hockey legend Dhyan Chand and Balbir Singh. Yet, little is known to the public about them or their game. While Bharat Ratna was conferred to cricket icon Sachin Tendulkar without taking into consideration the name of the ‘wizard’ Dhyan Chand in the recent history, how long will Indian hockey be suffering this step-motherly attitude?