Balbir Singh Sr. : Birth, Death, Early Life, Education, Olympics, Awards and Unknown Facts
Balbir Singh Dosanjh (Balbir Singh Sr.) was an Indian Hockey player who won Olympic gold medal three times-- London (1948), Helsinki (1952) and Melbourne (1956). Balbir Singh was a legendary Hockey player and was regarded as the modern-day Dhyan Chand. He scored five goals in India's 6-1 victory in 1952 Olympics in India vs Netherlands match. He still holds his record of scoring most goals by an individual in an Olympic men's Hockey.
Balbir Singh Dosanjh: Birth and Education
Balbir Singh was born on October 10, 1924, in Haripur Khalsa, Punjab. His father Dalip Singh Dosanjh was a freedom fighter. Balbir Singh Dosanjh completed his schooling from Dev Samaj High School, Punjab, India. He completed his further education from three colleges-- DM College, Punjab, India; Sikh National College, Lahore, Pakistan and Khalsa College, Amritsar.
Balbir Singh Dosanjh: Personal Life
Balbir Singh Dosanjh married Sushil Singh in 1946. The couple has a daughter and 3 sons-- Sushbir Singh (Daughter) and Kanwalbir Singh, Karanbir Singh, Gurbir Singh.
Balbir Singh Dosanjh: Death
Balbir Singh died on May 25, 2020, at the age of 95 years due to multiple health issues. Balbir Singh Sr. took his last breath at Fortis Hospital, Punjab.
Balbir Singh Dosanjh: Hockey Career
Harbail Singh who was a Hockey coach in Khalsa College, Amritsar, insisted Balbir Singh's transfer to his college from Sikh National College, Lahore, Pakistan. In 1942, after Balbir Singh sought permission from his parents, got transferred to Khalsa College where he began intensive practice sessions under the guidance of coach Harbail Singh. Harbail Singh also coached Indian National Hockey Team at Helsinki and Melbourne Olympics.
In 1942-43, Balbir Singh represented Punjab University as the Caption in All India Inter-University competition and Punjab University team won the competition for three years in a row-- 1943,1 944 and 1945. Balbir Singh was also a member of the team of undivided Punjab. Colonel AIS Dara was the captain of the team that won the title in 1947 (before the partition of India and Pakistan).
After the partition of India and Pakistan, Balbir Singh moved with his family to Ludhiana and was posted in Punjab Police. During 1941-1961, Balbir Singh captained the Punjab Police team.
Balbir Singh Sr. : 1948 Olympics
In 1948, Balbir Singh made his debut in Olympics. He played at London Olympics against Argentina (India's second match). Balbir Singh also played the final match against Great Britain and scored the first two goals for India. India won by 4-0.
Balbir Singh Sr. : 1952 Olympics
In 1952, K.D. Singh was the captain of Indian Olympic team while Balbir Singh was the Vice-Captain of the team at Helsinki Olympics. Balbir Singh scored a hat-trick against Britain in the semi-final match and India won by 3-1.
Balbir Singh also scored five goals against the Netherlands and set an Olympic record for the most goals scored by an individual in men's field Hockey in Olympic final. India won by 6-1.
It is interesting to note that Balbir Singh scored 13 goals i.e., 69.23% of the team's goals at Helsinki Olympics.
Balbir Singh Sr. : 1956 Olympics
Balbir Singh was the captain of the 1956 Melbourne Olympics team. He got injured after scoring five goals in the opening match against Afghanistan. However, Balbir Singh played the semi-final and the final match despite being injured. India won the finals against Pakistan with 1-0.
Balbir Singh Sr. : Unknown facts
1- In 1957, Balbir Singh Dosanjh was awarded Padma Shri by the Government of India. He was the first recipient of the award in the sports category.
2- Balbir Singh Dosanjh was the member of the Indian Hockey team that won silver at 1958 Asian Games.
3- In 1971, Balbir Singh Dosanjh coached the Indian Hockey team. The team won the Bronze medal in World Cup Hockey.
4- In 1975, Balbir Singh Dosanjh was the manager of the Indian Hockey team that won the World Cup Hockey.
5- Balbir Singh Dosanjh is the authored two books-- The Golden Hat Trick (1977), which was his autobiography and The Golden Yardstick: In Quest of Hockey Excellence (2008).
Balbir Singh Dosanjh: Awards and Achievements
1- Balbir Singh Sr. was the first recipient of the Padma Shri award in the sports category in 1957.
2- Balbir Singh Sr. along with Gurdev Singh was featured on a stamp to commemorate the 1956 Melbourne Olympics. The stamp was issued by the Dominican Republic in 1958.
3- In 2006, Balbir Singh Sr. was awarded the 'Best Sikh Hockey Player'. At that time, Balbir Singh Sr. stated that being a secular nationalist, he is not convinced with the religious-based award, but accepted it as he believed that it will help promote the Indian Hockey.
4- In 1982, a poll was conducted by the Patriot newspaper where he was awarded as the 'Indian Sportsperson of the Century'.
5- In 2015, Balbir Singh Sr. was awarded 'Major Dhyan Chand Lifetime Achievement Award of Hockey India.'