To the late Brigadier Dalip Singh goes the credit of being the
first Sikh to represent India in the Olympics. The 1924 Olympic
Games were held in Paris in which India sent a contingent of seven
athletes. In this seven-man squad, two Sikhs, Dalip and Palam made
The Sikh had missed the bus only four years ago when six Indian athletes had participated in the 1920 Antwerp Olympics. Dalip Singh could not have made to the Paris Olympics Games but for the patronage and help coming in from the late Magarajadhiraj Bhupinder Singh of Patiala. It may be recalled that Dalip Singh besides being a fine athlete was a good hockey player also. When the trails were to be held at Lahore (now in Pakistan) for the Paris Olympics, Dalip Singh was scheduled to play for Patiala Tigers, a hockey team. It was here that the Maharaja of Patiala came to recognise his worth and helped him take a well-deserved place in the seven -man athletic team. It is true that the team then did not bring home any laurels, but it is on record that two among the Indian athletic performed really well, and one of them was Dalip Singh. In the long jump event, he narrowly missed a mark which could have earned him a place among the first six.
Another honour which went to Dalip Singh was that he was the first Indian, a Sikh, to be the torch-bearer at the inaugural Asian Games at Delhi in 1951.
Born at Dolon village district, Dalip Singh had his schooling in Mission School, that he joined Forman Christian College and Law College, Lahore. Even at School he showed potential of a good sportsman, nay all-rounder. In fact, he emerged as a fine athlete, showing great skill in 100,200,440 yards, 120 yards hurdles and long jump during the university days. He played hockey and cricket too.
But he got the real breakthrough when he was selected to represent India in the 1924 Paris Olympics he was the captain of the Indian athletic team.
In fact, Dalip Singh can be described as a very distinguished man, In World War II, Dalip served the Patiala Infantry. He had joined the Patiala army in 1924. For his services, he was awarded M.B.E ( Medal for British Empire).
Milkha Singh can be described as one of the most extraordinary athletes of our times. Milkha Singh was a genius and a genius is never trained. Without any formal training, without any financial reward and without any emotional support (he lost his parents during Partition and he had only an elder brother and a sister to look for help) Milkha Singh took on the greatest athletes of his time and proved himself as good if not better. The burst of speed with which he broke the previous Olympic Games record of 5.9 seconds in 400 meters is now a part of folk lore in Punjab. The fairy tale is repeated as part of Punjab's rich heritage. Milkha is no less popular than Pele in Brazil and Maradona in Argentina. Generation after generation in India will remember fondly his exploits with which he set the tracks ablaze whenever and wherever he ran. Rarely has it happened in the Olympic history when so many athletes went on to break the greatest race of his time, this he had to, since he had to, since he had on blocks with him world's greatest athletes of his time. Who would have dared to challenge their might, expect Milkha, who though respected them yet never feared them. He simply ran-SUPERB.
In the first heat in the Rome Olympics in 190 Milkha Singh clocked 47.6 seconds to finish second. In the second round heat Milkha cut off a few second to finish second to Karl Kaufman of Germany with a timing of 46.5 seconds. In the semifinal Milkha ran shoulder to shoulder with Ottis Davis of the USA to Finnish once again second but he further clipped a few more seconds from his early timing (45.9) .In the final Milkha Singh went off the blocks and took an early lead. Midway he slowed down a bit. This proved his undoing because other athletes went past him. Realising his miscalculation, Mikha drew out every ounce of energy for the final burst but failed to retrieve the lost ground. How fiercely was the race run by runners of such high order can be gauged from the fact that the winner Ottis Davis and Kaufman clocked 44.8 seconds to finish first and second in 400 meters while Mel Spence of South Africa timed 45.5 seconds to finish third. Milkha Singh who actually led the pack was untimely fourth, timing 45.6 seconds, a difference of just 0.1 second from the bronze. Thus upto the final he clocked 47.6, 46.5, 45.9 and 45.6 seconds, clocking a better timing in every outing.
Talking about the race Milkha Singh explained that he found himself running at a reckless speed in the initial stages of the race. Thus he tried to slow down a bit and this proved to be a big error of judgement on his part. Pitted against athletes of such high class only a small error separated the winner from the loser.
Twenty eight years have passed since Milkha hung his spikes yet no athlete has ever gone nearer Milkha's magical timing. He was a product of that time when no facilities existed, no coach available, no reward offered and no job secured, yet armed only with an iron will and the will to draw his own course, Milkha reversed the movement of the wheels of destiny.
Born at Layallpur, now in Pakistan, on October 8, 1935, Milkha Singh shot into limelight during the National Games at Patiala in 1956. Two years later he shattered the 200 and 400 meters record in the National games at Cuttack. The same year he established new records in the 200 and 400 meters in the Asian games at Tokyo. He followed it up with a gold in the Commonwealth Games at Cardiff in 1958. How did he come to be known as the "Flying Sikh"?. Milkha Singh was participating in the Indo-Pak duel meet at Lahore when he outran Asia's most celebrated athlete in the 200 meters, Abdul Khaliq of Pakistan. It was said that Milkha did not run the race but he flew.
Milkha Singh is sad to find that his exploits and achievements have not gone so far to inspire the younger generation. He is critical of the young athletes who aspire to reach the top via short cut and refuse to sweat out in the field. The government offers a number of facilities, there are a number of awards and scholarships, professional colleges offer seats to sportsman, jobs are secured for them, yet sportsmen of high order never emerge. It is the age of mediocrity.
Milkha Singh is, at present, Additional Director of Sports and Youth Programme, Education Department. Married to former international player, Nirmal, he has one son and three daughters. His son, Chiranjeev Milkha Singh, is a top golfer and represented India in the Beijing Asian Games in 1990.
Hardly anyone knows in India why Milkha Singh was so popular in the 1960 Rome Olympics. The moment he would enter the stadium, the people would cheer him most enthusiastically. After all Milkha Singh was not the world's top athlete, no doubt he was among the top runners in the world. Though Rome saw the assembly of top athletes, yet no athlete could draw as much response from the crowd as Milkha Singh.
The real reason for Milkha Singh to be extremely popular among the people was that Milkha Singh had long hair and beard. People in Rome had not seen any athlete with a hair do on his head. They thought the man was a saint. So they wondered how a saint could run so fast. In addition to that none in Rome had any knowledge about Sikhism. The people often came to Milkha Singh and asked why he grew long hair. What is a Sikh, what is Sikhism, they hardly understood anything about the young religion. Milkha Singh enlightened them as much as he could. Yet the people remained as curious as ever.
Besides, Mulkha Singh had embarked on a European tour before landing in Rome. He had won a number of races on route to Rome. Since he had made some of the top athletes lick the dust in a number of competitions, his popularity had spread far and wide even before he reached Rome. In the Olympics too Milkha Singh ran true to his form and ruined the reputation of some of the established stars. Almost all Sikh athletes and sportsmen tied a handkerchief on their hair-do since 'patka' was unknown in those days. Thus Milkha Singh 's different headgear and his athletic exploits made him the darling of the crowd both on and off the track. Milkha Singh himself admits that he was popular because of being a Sikh. The long hair and the bread fascinated the Romans.
Milkha Singh had so much conditioned himself that at any given time and place he could run two races in a day. This superiority of strength had enabled him to win a number of races in the world. However, this superiority did not stand him in good stead at Rome for the simple reason that there was a gap of two days between semifinal and final races. This made Milkha Singh nervous. He felt very dispirited and off-colour. A day before the race Milkha Singh felt disturbed . But at that time a Punjab minister, Mr Umrao Singh, Who was the then president of the All-India Athletics Association,came into his room and took him out for fresh air. This eased the tension a bit and his mind was taken off the competition. The minister took him to some of the wonderful places of the city of Rome and later dropped him at his hotel.
Though Milkha Singh was feeling normal the next day, luck did not help him a bit. While other top athletes got better lanes, Milkha Singh was placed in the fifth. The lot put a German athlete in the first lane, the American in the second, a Pole in the third and South African in the fourth while the second German athlete was placed in the sixth lane. According to Milkha's assessment, the German was the weakest of all the other athletes. Thus being in the fifth lane, Milkha could only see the second German athlete. Thus a weak athlete in front was no advantage.
Therefore, Milkha Singh took off the blocks with a great burst of speed, and managed to lead the pack within 200 metres. But Milkha Singh was running at a dangerously fast speed, so he thought of slowing down a bit. As soon as he checked his speed, in a flash three runners, he failed to erase the deficit of five or six yards in the last 100 meters. Since he found it impossible to catch up with the first two athletes, Milkha Singh tried to outpace South Africa's Melcolm Spence whom he had beaten in the Commonwealth Games. But as ill-luck would have it, Spence got himself into the first two runners and Milkha found himself unable to catch up with. Almost all the first four athletes crossed the line one after another. It was a photo finish. Thus the announcement was held up. When the film was washed and the results were announced, the world of Milkha Singh lay shattered. In sheer despair Milkha Singh took to drinking to drown his disappointment. No matter how hard he tried he failed to remove the scar of defeat from his mind.
Two events stand out clear in the life of Milkha Singh, one the Partition when his parents were butchered, and second the defeat at Rome. Therefore, when an invitation came Milkha Singh's way to run in Pakistan, he was not enthusiastic about it. He hated the place for; he had lost his parents and other relatives in a traumatic experience. However, he was persuaded to run against Asia's best runner, Abdul Khaliq of Pakistan. Khaliq was the best runner that Pakistan had produced and he had a string of victories in the 200 metres in Asia.
But as the 200 meters race began, Milkha Singh outpaced the Pakistani from the word `go' and won in one of the most convincing manners. The people were wonder struck at the pace at which Milkha Singh had run the race. It was announced that Milkha had not run but had flown. It was during this race that Milkha Singh earned the `title' of the "Flying Sikh." The whole stadium was packed to capacity and the people had gathered to se the key contest between two of Asia's finest runners. So when the Indian runner breasted the tape, the 30,000 burqa-clad women uncovered their faces to have a clear view of the Sikh wonder athlete . Milkha Singh was taken to the VIP gallery and introduced to Pakistan President General Ayub who was himself present at the stadium in Lahore.
Milkha Singh was awarded the prestigious 'Padam Shri' by the President of India in 1958 when he won the gold medal in the British and Commonwealth Games till now.
All medals and trophies won by Milkha Singh, including the running shoes with which he broke the world record, blazers and uniforms have been donated by him to the National Sports Museum at the Jawajarlal Nehu Stadium, New Delhi.
Milkha Singh has keen desire to witness an Indian athlete win a gold Medal in the Olympic Games, a target which just slipped away from his hand by slight error of judgement.
After retirement Milkha Singh wants to set up an athletic academy in or around Chandigarh so that he can end the draught of top athletes.
1. Lall Singh : Born Dec. 16, 1909; HAD THE HONOUR OF PLAYING INDIA 'S FIRST TEST One Test,2 innings, 44 runs,29 h.s. avge. 22.00 one catch and no bowling.
2. Yadavindra Singh : (MAHARAJA OF PATIALA)
Born : January 17, 1913. Died June 17, 1974 at the Hague. Played one Test against England at Madras in 1933-34 scoring 60 and 24 runs and held two catches. No bowling.
3. A.G.S. Kirpal Singh
Born: August 6, 1933, Living in Madras, son of A.G. Ram Singh and elder brother of Test player A.G. Milkha Singh. 14-20 -5-422-100 * 28.13 1244 1518 75 584 10 58.40 3/43. Scored a century on debut in Tests:
4. A.G. S. Milkha Singh
Born December 31,1941 at Madras 4-6-0-92-35 15.33-2 6 balls 2 runs, no wickets.
On a winter evening in 1979, a cricketer after a strenuous workout
session was returning to a pavilion in Delhi when suddenly three
small boys hardly in their teens, with muddy faces whispered his
name and then giggled. The man at once broke his company, gave an affectionate
pat on each head and then shook their rough hands as the juvenile
souls stood dazed in amazement.
While travelling in a train, an up-and coming cricketer jokingly asked this man why he was carrying a bat which was of little use to him as he batted at the end for a few seconds, sometimes playing just a ball or two. Smilingly, the man obliged the young cricketer who stood surprised at the former's gesture.
After finishing his assignment with a country club in England, this man on his way back purchased a set of wicket-keeper a gloves for a promising lad, son of a groundsman, on his own.
A Mohammedan boy lay ill in a Karachi hospital a few years ago with no hope of survival. The reason? Blood group 'O' was available neither at hospital nor was anybody ready to donate a few drops to save his precious life. Suddenly the boy's parents got an anonymous cal. Startled, the parents asked who he was. The voce at the other end said:"A man." In a few minutes the man appeared on the scene for donating his blood to save the life of someone who did not belong to his faith even.
Who was this man, involved in some out ---of the book incidents cited above? Certainly, he was none other than Bishan Singh Bedi, one of the all-time greats in the annals of international cricket. India has produced bowlers, say spinners of great merit but Bedi had no peers, he was a cut above the rest.
A bowler of extra-ordinary potential with extra-ordinary sight, a fine patka over his long hair wound in a knot at the to. Bedi bowled and baffed many a great bat in the world. In a clockwork precision, Bedi bowled overs as no other bowler would do, maintaining a computerised length and direction, weaving a magic web with his vicious deliveries around the players' legs. He razed to dust the reputation of some, while he made other stalwarts look pedestrians before him. He flighted the ball giving a lot of air to it. Batsmen who plundered runs at will before, were suddenly found lacking in the art and science of the game when Bedi came to bowl. Great cricketers like Australia's Doung Walters found himself many times bowled lock, stock and barrel by a slow orthodox Bedi delivery that on view seemed perfect for a six. John Edrich, onedown batsman for England for a pretty long time, failed to complete the century, once, falling to a Bedi delivery which spun in viciously after pitching. It is on record that Bedi finished the career prematurely of some fine cricketers in the game. But the more he was ruthless on the field the more he was gentle and humane off the file. The honour of the country remained always dear to him, nothing could distract him from his goal. When the traditional test cricket faced danger from Australian T.V. tycoon Kerry Packer, Bedi defied the million dollar-offer and single-handedly held aloft the flag of Test cricket.
Bedi is and was a great crusader. Following principles of morality and merit, he dared defy the authority of all mortals. He vehemently attacked those he found stooping below the level of sportsmanship. He fought many a battle, no matter whether he won or lost. May 11 would go down in history as the Red Letter day for Asia as on this day, Bedi spoke from the United Nations Platform in New York against apartheid in sports practiced by South Africa. It was for the first time that an Indian was given the rare honour of addressing the United Nations. After he was introduced by the then Nigerian Chairman of the committee as 'one of the finest spin bowlers in the world', Bedi said:
Indian consider apartheid in sports practised by South Africa as a negation of the principles of human dignity.' I call upon all the sports organisations of the world to work united to end the practice. The only effective weapon in this direction is for the countries of the world to sever sporting contracts between their nationals and the nationals of south Africa. I am aware I have been chosen for the honour by the committee because of this citizenship of a country which has been in the vanguard of the international movement against the evil system of apartheid in South Africa for several decades. Today apartheid in South Africa has been abolished.
He has already been awarded the Arjuna and Padam Shri awards.
Bishan Singh Bedi was born at Amritsar, the Sikhs' spiritual capital, on September 25, 1946. He finished his schooling unnoticed. But his ability as a potential bowler came to view only after he joined Khalsa College, Amritsar. He showed sparks of brilliance while bowling slow left spinners. Convinced as the captain was of his class and calibre, Bedi was given long spells of bowling thus learning the tricks in the trade of spin bowling. Next year, he joined Hindu College, because the new institution afforded him a lot of opportunities to shape himself into a fine bowler. Rightly Bedi enhanced his reputation and rating on the cricket scene as he gradually rose from one step to another. From the college to the university team from Punjab to the North Zone side, Bedi advanced with effortless ease. The early encouragement, his success and total commitment to the cause of cricket paid rich dividends. Often in sweltering heat of the summer, the people saw a young man in turban bowling alone for hours at a stretch. Determination and devotion of this kind could not but yield results later.
Bedi after establishing his credentials well in the state and zone soon caught the eye of the national selectors who put him to severe test against a team led by an all-time great Garry St. A. Sobers of the West Indies. Thus in the second Test played from December 31, 1996, to January 5, 1967, at Calcutta, the people saw a lean figure sporting a bread and turban descending on the cricket field. Though India lost, Bedi won the hearts of both spectators and selectors. From the on started the success story of this fine spinner. As the years went by Bedi became an integral part of the team. His cricketing exploits are now almost legendary. He played against all cricket playing countries : England, Australia, the West Indies, New Zeeland and Pakistan. With 266 wickets in the bag, he was at one time the fifth biggest wicket-taker in the history of the world. At another time some strongly believed that had he not been sidelined unceremoniously by the Board of Control for Cricket in India, he would have gone on to become the top wicket-taker. He led India in 22 Tests in a row which in itself is a record for India as previously Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi held the distinction with 21 Tests. Bedi is also the only Indian bowler to claim over 1500 wickets in first-class cricket.
If Bedi's contribution to Indian cricket is great, to Delhi it is ever greater. Helping those with no godfathers is another of Bedi's pastime. He has helped many a budding player to hit the headlines. In Delhi, he harnessed cricket potential to a great extent, making it emerge as the premier side on the national cricket scene. Convince him of a good cause, whether in sports or in any other worthy field like collecting funds for the handicapped, well, Bedi will be in the forefront of all noble campaigns. And this is what has endeared Bedi to the public. Even after his retirement from the game, he remains the heart throb of the millions not only in India but the world over. Fully subscribing to the Sikh faith and ideology, Bedi remains a popular figure to the millions of Sikhs in India and abroad.
Bedi is employed in SAIL at Delhi.
Navjot Singh Sidhu is Punjab's answer to Tamil Nadh's K. Srikkanth,
both India's dashing opening batsmen and both hard-hitters of the
bal. Both cannot be tied down no matter of what country the pace
attack they are facing, both like to leave the crease to lift the
ball into the stands for glorious sixes, sometimes even on demand.
In the sixties all round Salim Durrani delighted the crowds,
spraying sixes on all sides. In the seventies and eighties both
Srikkanth and Sidhu were the start performers on the Indian
cricket scene. If Srikkanth was a folk hero in Tamil Nadu, Sidhu
is a hero in Punjab.
Sidhu took to cricket because with his father, the late Bhagwant Singh Sidhu, the game was a passion. He wanted to see Sidhu as a top-class cricketer. So he took him everywhere, followed him like a shadow and ensured Sidhu had a cricket atmosphere around. From the beginning Sidhu showed great promise. As the years rolled by he polished his game further and removed whatever flaws he had in his technique.
Sidhu first represented the country in England with the under-19 Indian team led by Ravi Shastry. His performance was satisfactory. But Navjot Sidhu showed his real class during the West Indies tour of India. Playing for the North Zone Sidhu first cricket a century against the West Indies. Later he was included in the Board President's XI when he scored 70 odd runs. This ensured him a place in the Indian team. Thus Sidhu made his Test debut against the West Indies led by Clive Llyod in 1983. In the years that followed Sidhu had matured into a fine cricketer.
Navjot hit the maiden test century (116) against New Zeeland led by John Wright. In five Test innings Sidhu aggregated 198 at an average of 49.50. So he was able to establish himself as a successful Test cricketer from Punjab.
But in the three one-day internationals against New Zeeland Sidhu scored 25,67 and 14 which gave him an average of 35.53. In the 1987 Reliance Cup Sidhu had time and again hammered the opposition into submission. However, against the Kiwis he was less authoritative. At the Cuttack international where he hit 67 runs, he ducked awkwardly to give a rising catch to wicket-keeper Ian Smith. It had given rise to the view in certain quarters that Sidhu was vulnerable against rising deliveries. However, the opinion was not well founded going by his scores in the Reliance Cup. In what World Cup Sidhu hit 73 against Australia, 75 against New Zeeland, 51 against Australia again, 55 against Zimbabwe and 22 against England.
But lately Sidhu has been in and out of the Indian team. Initially he was not selected in the Indian team for the Australian tour in 1992 but was recalled mid-way through the tour. But Sidhu obviously did not succeed as much as the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) wanted him to. Consequently, he was dropped from the Indian team for the World Cup. However, some strongly felt that he was unceremoniously axed.
However, Sidhu has still years of cricket in him. If he keeps away injuries and maintains his physical fitness, he will most naturally walk into the national team and don the India cap, rather turban in his case.
At present Navjot Sidhu is working as an officer with the State Bank of Patiala.
The celebrated king of soccer, striker Inder Singh will go down in the annals of Indian football as a legend. He has been rightly described as "Pele' of Punjab.He is one Sikh footballer who has brought immense glory to the state. Speed and skill were the chief weapons of his game. He pounced upon the ball like a panther and when he went on an attacking spree he put any defence out of gear. He trapped the ball with remarkable skill and scored from acute angles. It was with this nerve that in the 1974 National Foorball Championship.
He earned the distinction of leading the Indian football team thrice. In 1969 he became the first Punjab player to play in the Asian All-Star team. He was presented the Arjuna Award in 1969. Inder Singh studied at Government High School, Phagwara. He attended his first Punjab school soccer camp in 1959 where the camp-in-charge was Joginder Singh. He was quick to learn. Form 1959 to 1961 he represented Punjab in the All India school Games. In 1960 and 1961 he was declared the best player and highest scorer in the School Games. In 1962 he joined Leaders Club (Jalandhar). The same year here presented Punjab in the Santosh Trophy at Bangalore. In 1963 he was selected in the Indian team which played in the pre- Olympic meet in Iran and at Calcutta. The same year he played in the Asia Cup at Tel Aviv where in the final Israll defeated India 2-0. Then he played in Merdeka soccer at Kuala Lumpur where India finished second. In 1966 Inder Singh toured Burma and played in theAsian Games at Bangkok. In 1969 he was named skipper of the Indian team to play in Merdeka soccer. Next year's Merdeka turned unlucky for him as he badly injured his knee.
Inder Singh was recalled to the coaching camp in 1971-72 but could not attend it because he was not fully fit. In 1973 he again led India in Merdeka.In 1975 he captained India in the Hakim Gold Cup tournament in Indonesia. Playing against South Korea, He broke his right arm.
Since 1975 he has not played for India. From 1962 to 77 he continuously represented Punjab. In 1972 he left Leaders Club and joined Jagatjit Cotton Textile Mills (Phagwara).
Inder Singh who was born in 1943 has been with the J.C.T. Mills (Phagwara).
Sansrpur village on the outskirts of Jalandhar is well-known for producing top hockey players for India. One whose stickwork dazzled and fascinated the people was Udham Singh, the centre forward in many of India's battles. He could have become the only Indian, a Sikh, to represent India in five successive Olympic Games but that was not to be, injury prevented him from acquiring that honour. Now after Lesile Claudius, he is the only Indian player who has donned national colours in four successive Olympics. These were 1952 Helsinki Olympics (under D.S. Babu) , 1956 Melbourne Olympics (under L. Claudiua) and Tokyo Olympics (under Charanjit Singh).
Udham singh has been known to be a versatile forward. He could play at left -inside, right -inside, centre-forward or click at centre-half position too. This man has dedicated and devoted his entire life to sports and still, he maintains himself as fit as during his heydays. B.S.F. had the hockey team full of renowned Olympians such as Ajit Pal, Baldev Singh and others. It is on record that once when his team was trailing in a tournament he got himself into the playing kit and turned the tables.
Before joining the B.S.F. he served in the Punjab Police. One thing which surprises one is how and why so great a player just failed to lead the country in any Asian or the Olympic Games. His hockey career spans from 1949 to 1964, and during this period, he led India thrice, first in 1953 when the Indian team went on a tour of Warsaw (Poland). Secondly Udham was the captain on Indian's East African and European tours in 1959. Last time he led the Indian team on Australian and New Zeeland tours.
However, giving full recognition and respect to his services which he rendered to the nation, the Indian Government awarded him the coveted Arjuna Award.
Following is the full chart of his hockey career :
|1953 (as captain)||Warsaw (Poland)|
|1958||Asian Games, Tokyo (Japan)|
|1959 (as captain)||East African & European tour|
|1961 (as skipper)||Ausralia-New Zeeland tour|
Ajit Pal Singh was rightly acclaimed as "one of the best centre halfs in the worlds" during his time. He led India to a sensational victory in the third world Cup Hockey Tournament at Kaula Lumpur in 1975. But next year with practically the same team he saw India crashing to the seventh place in the Montreal Olympics Games.
Born on April 1, 1947, Ajit pal Singh learnt the alphabet of hockey in his native Sansarpur village, the bastion of hockey during that time. A number of players from this village had already represented India in the Olympics and a number of international tournaments.
He first played in an international hockey tournament at Bombay in 1960. Later he represented India in Japan in 1966. Having finished his studies at the school, Ajit Pal Singh joined Layalpur Khalsa College, Jalandhar, which had honour of a number of star hockey players. Ajit Pal Singh got the first real break when, as student of B.A. Part-I, he was selected in the Indian team to play in the Pre-Olympic Hockey Tournament at permanently on the rolls of Indian hockey team. Next year Ajit Pal Singh gave a dazzling show of stickwork in the Mexico Olympic Games. He showed what a fine sense of distribution he had and how he helped make the half-line function smoothly. Ajit pal Singh showed such dexterity and skill at his position that he was included in the World Hockey teams of 1971,72 and 73. He next represented India in the 1974 Asian Games at Teheran. Consequently he was included in the Asian All-Star Hockey XI the same year.
But he reached the pinnacle of glory in 1975 when he led India to the third World Cup victory in Kuala Lumpur in the most trying circumstances. The Punjab Government had borne all expenses prior to the participation by organising a camp for the team in Punjab. The whole country was in great jubilation. For the first time hockey seemed to get priority over cricket in the country.
Ajit Pal next toured New Zeeland. But in 1976 in the Montreal Olympics Games India suffered the most humiliating defeat under Ajit Pal Singh when they finished seventh. No one seemed ready for an answer what went wrong for, India had fielded practically the same team which had won the third World Cup title.
Fed up with the Indian show at Montreal and in view of the mounting criticism in the country, Ajit Pal Singh retired from the international hockey scene. However, he continued playing for the BSF where he was employed as Assistant Commandant. He was also not happy the way the Indian Hockey Federation managed its affairs treating the players shabbily off and on the field.
Four years later Ajit Pal Singh came out of retirement to play in the Champions Trophy Tournament at Karachi in 1980. That untimely became his last international appearance for India. Ajit Pal Singh was awarded the Arjuna Award in 1972.
Ajit Pal Singh shared one common trait with the late Surjit Singh. He always challenged the highhandedness of IHF bosses who showed scant respect for the boys who toiled in the field for the country's honour. He was very vocal in criticising the IHF working. But as a player, Ajit Pal Singh was very shrewd, a great schemer and played hockey in his mind. At present, he owns a Centre-Half filling station in Delhi.
The opinion may be divided among hockey fans as to who was the best deep defender between Prithipal Singh and Surjit Singh. However, none can deny that both possessed extraordinary skill, sound tackling and fine recovery besides unleashing thouderbolts from the heavy blades of their sticks.
Both served the country in the Olympics Games and a host of international tournaments with deep commitment to the game, It was tragic that Surjit Singh after his retirement from the game, died in a road accident near Kartarpura in Jalandhar district while arranging to organise his benefit tie at Jalandhar.
While Surjit Singh was unassuming and soft spoken, he had great differences with Indian Hockey federation bosses over the raw deal given to the hockey players. Like Bishan Singh Bedi in cricket, Surjit always upheld the player's cause. He was pained to find how hockey players were treated like 'herd of cattle'. Frustrated and disillusioned, Surjit Singh hung his stick during the prime time of his carrer.
Born on October 10, 1951, Surjit Singh played for Guru Nanak Dev University and later for Combined Universities team. Being talented he played a compact game from the very beginning and did not have to exert much to catch the selectors' eye. Once in the national team he did not look back and gave dazzling performance during his short but eventful career during which he became the players' spokesman. Surjit Singh made his debut internationally in the second World Cup Hockey Tournament in Amsterdam in 1973. He was a member of the Indian team which under the leadership of charismatic leader Ajit Pal Singh won the third World Cup Hockey Tournament at Kuala Lumpur in 1975. Later, he participated in the fifth World Cup Hockey Tournament, the 174 and 1978 Asian Games. He once again played under the leadership of Ajit Pal Singh in the Montreal Olympic Games in 1976 when Indian hockey nosedived.
Surjit Singh was acclaimed as one of the best full backs in the world. In 1973 he was included in the World Hockey XI. Next year he was a member of the All-Star Hockey XI. Surjit Singh was also the top scorer-both in the Esanda International hockey Tournament at Perth in Australia and the 1978 Asian Games.
Surjit Singh served the Indian Airlines for a few years. Later he joined the Punjab Police. Surjit was simple but he endeared himself to many with his pleasing personality. The world was shocked when it came to know about his death in such tragic circumstances. However, soon friends and fans got together to form the Surjit Singh Memories fresh by organising a highly competitive tournament. With Mr Jagir Puri as its secretary and the current India hockey captain Pargat Singh as a Vice-President, the society has not only been organising high-class competition year after year, it has also been holding camps for junior boys to make hockey stronger at the grassroots level. The society's fine functioning has given such impetus to the game in the region that bright and talented players are coming up in every age group. What better tribute will be to Surjit Singh who always considered it a sacred duty to fight for the cause of hockey and the players' rights.
The amazing part of Pargat Singh's personality is that he looks anything except a defender. He is slim and has less than average height. He is far away from the picture of a common defender who is strongly built and of good height. But Pargat Singh has not allowed ordinary physical features to cast a shadow on his standing as one the best deep defenders that the game has today.
Today, Indian hockey revolves round his stickwork. He is the most skilful player on the Indian Hockey scene. He may have a different style and approach to the game from the past Indian defenders but he carries one common trait too, like them he is committed to the cause of hockey and fully devoted. No wonder then that he has already donned national colours in the Asia Cup, the Asian Games.
Born on March 5, 1965, at Mithapur near Jalandhar cantonment, Pargat Singh had his early education at a village school. Afrerwards he joined Lyallpur Khalsa College. Jalandhar, which produced players of the calibre of Ajit Pal Singh and Surinder Sodhi, both former captains. Soon Pargat Singh showed that he too had a class of his own. As junior, he was included in the junior Indian hockey team. That was the kind of inspiration Pargat Singh needed. Graduating into the senior hockey team was a natural and smooth process for Pargat Singh who started emerging as the most talented player. He first represented India in the 10-nation hockey tournament at Hong Kong.
Pargat Singh's ability as a defender of high order was quickly realised. Pargat showed he had fine anticipation, skillful tackling, superb ball control and excellent power of recovery. But he added a different meaning to the concept of deep defence. He adhered to the aggressive, attacking style. He was not content to sit back, rather stand back and watch. No, he may suddenly leave the fort and charge into the battle, rattling the rival forces. The style no doubt had the disadvantage too for, it left gaps in the defence. But the style yielded rich dividends too.
In the Champions Trophy at Perth in Australia, India were trailing 1-5 against Germany with just six minutes to go, But on that particular day, Indians did not lose hoped to strike. And strike they did. One after another India blasted three goals to make it 4-5. With only a few second to go, Pargat Singh collected the ball from his own half and ran down the field. Dribbling and dodging, he tore apart the German defence to sore a unique goal.
Pargat Singh repeated the action in the next Champions Trophy and gave India a 3-2 victory over Holland. Soft spoken and unassuming, Pargat Singh has been India's mainstay. Under his command India gave often fared creditably. Attack is the best form of defence, they say, and Pargat is the exponent of this art. He often carries the fight into the rival camp. Since he is the captain of the shop, his repeated forays into the enemy camp, inspire his team-members. He is also leading India in the Barcelona Olympics. Since Pargat Singh is young, India can still depend on him for a number of years. Married recently Pargat Singh is young, India can still depend on him for a number of years. Married recently Pargat Singh also Vice-President of the Surjit Singh Memorial Hockey Tournament Society of which Mr. Jagir Puri is the secretary. Both are the main pillars of the society.
Two events deserve to be recorded in golden letters in the pages of the Indian lawn tennis history, one was when India made it to the Challenge Round in 1974 included a Sikh player who had given a magnificent performance for his team. It was for the first time that a Sikh was donning India colours in lawn tennis. It is no secret in India that this game has always been monopolised by the south, for the obvious reason that better facilities and the necessary infrastructure for the game exist only in that part of the country, as still it does. On the national scene were such names as Vijay Amrithraj, Anand Amrithraj, Premjit Lal, Jaideep Mukherjee and Shashi Menon. Vijay Amrithraj by then had already emergd as the undisputed top tennis player I the country with a string of upsets over such great names of the game as Stan Smith, and red-haired Australian Rod Laver, who has the unique distinction of winning the Grand Salm twice.
Premjit and Jaideep were then struggling to retain their places in the Indian team. But new faces were batting with old ones. One such player who by sheer dint of his complete commitment to the game managed to make it to the national grade was Jasjit Singh, the first-ever Sikh to have moved into the Indian team. During the pre-Independence period lawn tennis no doubt was a popular sport in the North, thanks to the Patronage shown by Raj kumari Amrit Kaur. But after the division of the country, the game had run short of oxygen here. Thus the entry of Jasjit Singh was simply a tribute to the ability of this young boy.
In 1974, India played Australia in the semifinal in India. The Indian line-up was Vijay Amrithraj, Jasjit Singh and Anand Amritraj, with Vijay and Jasjit playing singles while Vijay teamed up later with Anand for the Sikh against Austrialia's Bob Gillitman. In fact, India would have desired going one up convincingly with Vijay playing the first single. However, that was not to be. But hats off to the talented Jasjit who in a see saw tussle against the Australian notched up the most creditable victory for India. There as great rejoicing in the Indian camp. The match had dragged down to the fifth set with both players trying every trick in their trade. Fortunately, Indian ultimately won the tie moving second time in the Challenge Round. Elated over the victory, Vijay commented "Jasjit gave us a fine lead of which India took full advantage. He played marvellous."
So that was Jasjit Singh for India. Jasjit Singh is the only Sikh to have played in all the Grand Slam championships-the French Open, the Wimbledon, the U.S. Open and the Australian Open Tennis Championships. His achievements include victories over many great names in the game. For instance, his victory over Tony Roche, who many times was a semi-finalist at the Wimbledon. Then he had victories over American Davis Cup player Brian Gottfried, Ross Case, Kim Warwick and Mika Estep. Estep had beaten India's Vijay Amrithraj. Jasjit was ranked '70 in ATP ranking in 1974.
Jasjit Singh later settled down in New York, employed as Tennis Director at Grossinger Hotel and Country Club, Grossinger, New York.
The player who had dominated the Indian table tennis for the longest ever period is Manjit Singh Dua, the stylish left-handed from New Delhi were he was born and raised. There has hardly been any player in the annals of Indian table tennis who has enjoyed such a long innings.
Embarking on the international scene, Manjit Dua has left a long trail of personal glory with achievements galore in his career. He carved out many notable victories with his close-to-the table fast attacking game. His variety of 'serves' backed by nimble footwork, accurate and sharp anticipation upset the apple cart of many a heavyweight in the game.
Early in his life Manjit might have derived some inspiration from his elder brother Rajinder Singh Dua who played the game. But it soon became obvious that young Dua was destined to scale greater heights. Forgetting other frivolities which occupy sometimes a growing mind, Manjit put his heart and soul in the game and concentrated on it in the right earnest.
Slowly Dua built up his game on a sound footing. Now he started executing good strokes. He developed accuracy on both backhand and forehand. His drives were powerful and his blocks perfect, leaving the ball dead on the table in some obscure corner.
Dua soon caught the public eye. In 1967 he was selected in the Delhi table tennis team. This was the first recognition of his talent. From then on Dua went on from strength to strength, bringing in more depth to his strokes, polish and power. The result was that now Dua was that now Dua was considered a star on the national table tennis circuit.
He got the real break in 1973 when he was chosen to lead Delhi for the first time. The honour perhaps inspired the young star so much that he steered himself to success after success. He first captured the North Zone table tennis title at Jalandhar with sparks of brilliance. But more was yet to follow that year. Following up his North Zone success, he caused a flutter when he overpowered Mir Kasim Ali, the reigning champion, to crown himself as the new table tennis champion. Dua was the first Sikh player to have achieved that honor.
It would be safe enough to say that from that year onwards, Dua went on to win name and fame in the field of table tennis both at home and abroad.
Next year although Dua failed to retain the national title, he on account of his good performance throughout the year was ranked number one in the country. Dua failed still next year despite speculation in table tennis circle that he would emerge champion. And he became the champion in 1976.
Dua kept leading Delhi in all the major tournaments .In 1974 and 80 under his captaincy, Delhi won the team title in the National Table Tennis Championships.
In 1979 Manjit once again wrested the national table tennis title for the third time. All through the years, he had been defeated only in the semis or final. Never throughout his life defeated only in the semis or final. Never throughout his life has he been upset in the earlier rounds. For instance, in 1981 when the country once again expected him to win the title for the fourth time, he succumbed to Kamlesh Mehta in the semis that later easily lost to V. Chandershekhar in the final.
Since 1973 when Dua became the national champion for the first time, he has been representing India in all the major table tennis tournaments all over the globe. In the Commonwealth T.T. Championship at Bombay (India) in February, 1982, Dua won a bronze medal in the men's singles event. He has taken part in all Waterloos for his country, in the Asian, the Commonwealth and the world Table Tennis Championships. People have often wondered at his peak form, psychological built-up with extreme physical fitness which he has maintained for an incredibly long time. Declared as the best sportsman of Delhi 1974 besides ranked number one in the country, Dua was also awarded the Arjuna Award the same year.
Manjit Dua's performance at a glance:
1. National champion in 1973, 76 & 79.
Ranked Number one in 1974 in the country.
2. Had been representing Delhi since 1967.
Captained Delhi in the National T.T. Championships in 1974 & 80 which won the team title.
3. Had won all major tournaments of the country.
4. Captaining Delhi in all the major championships since 1973.
5. Represented India in the Asian T.T. Championships at china, DPR Korea, Malaysia, Japan, Calcutta and Indonesia and the Commonwealth T.T. Championship at Cardiff (Wales), Melbourne (Australia), Edinburg (Scotland) and Bombay (India) and the World Championships at Calcutta (India) and the world Championships at Calcutta (India). Brimingham (U.K.), Jarajevo (Yugoslavia), Pyongyong (DPR Korea), and Novisad (Yugoslavia).
6. Played in international tournaments in the USA, Canada, Germany, Iran, Swedan, Nepal, Japan and South Korea.
7. Best Sportsman of Delhi in 1974.
8. Winner of Arjuna Award in 1974.
9. Bronze medal winner in the men's singles in the commonwealth T.T. Championship at Bombay in 1982.
His Highness the late Maharaja Yadvindra Singh was a multi-faceted personality. In the field of sports he started from where his illustrious father had left. Maintaining high sporting traditions of his family Yadvindra Singh worked for sports with such courage, conviction and zeal that sports soon found itself on a firm footing in his time. Graceful and handsome, he was a towering figure. On the way he was dogged by many hurdles yet he advanced on his royal march. He reared many sports organisations and gave right direction to them. He was not only a fine cricketer and an able sports administrator, but he was, Yadvindra Singh showed his skill in a number of spheres, besides sports. This may have something to do with his early experience.
Yadvindra Singh studied at Aitchison College, Lahore. Later, he was also trained at the Police Training Centre, Phillaur. He conducted the state affairs in the absence of his father. It must be mentioned here that it was he who played a key role in the integration of the country during the turbulent period of partition in 1947 when many princely states had raised the flag of revolt against the Indian Union. The Indian government gave full recognition to him and he, along with Mr Krishana Menon represented India in the United Nations and UNESCO.
As a cricketer, he earned the India colours. From 1939 to 60 he remained Chairman by his younger brother Raja Bhalindra Singh, who died in 1992.
Durng his time he was also Ambassador to the Netherlands. It was during that period that India recorded the sensational World Cup victory over their arch hockey rivals Pakistan in Amsterdam.
Raja Bhalindra Singh (1919-1992)
The House of Patiala has not only been known for patronising sports, but it has also been credited with producing great sportsmen and administrators. No household throughout India can match the pioneering work done by the Patiala family. Both Yadvindra Singh and Bhalindra Singh only followed a course which their ancestors had set for them.
Popularly known as Raja Sahib both in sports and political circles, Raja Bhalindra Singh belonged to a rare breed of sports administrators. Sports was not a pastime for him but a passion and with passion he pursued it throughout his life. He was still batting when the innings folded up for him.
The Raja did not possess a sports mind only. He himself was a fine rider, a good cricketer and a fine tennis player. He had the distinction of donning Cambrige University colours Besides, he wielded the willow in the Ranjit Trophy as member of the Southern Punjab team.
But his real break came when he was elected life member of the International Olympic Committee in 1974. At that time his own brother, both were born of different Ranis, Maharaja Yadvindra Singh, was President of the Indian Olympic Association.
From 1959 to 1975, he held the position of President of the IOA. There was a gap after this. But the Raja once again occupied the old seat of the chief of the IOA. He held the post till 1984. In between, the 1982 Asian Games were organised by India in New Delhi under his patronage. But raja Bhalindra Singh did not confine his interest only to the IOC or the IOA, but he was equally associated with athletics, swimming and hockey. A product of famous A product of famous Aitchison College, Lahore, Raja Bhalindra Singh remained President of the Patiala Union Olympic Association till 1957. Till 1960, he was the Vice-President of the Punjab Olympic Association. He had been President of the Amateur Athletics Federation of India since 1953 and continued in his post till the 80s. In 1964 Tokyo Olympics Games he was appointed che-de-mission of the India contingent.
The Government honoured his with the Padma Bhushan Award in recognition of his services to sports. But that was not the only award that came his way. He was also given the 1982 International Distinguished Service Award by the US Sports Academy, having its headquarters in Mobile (Alabama)
Raja Bhalindra Singh also dabbled in politics for a short period. He was elected to the Punjab Legistature Assembly in 1958. He worked in the home and education departments if PEPSU. He also served as Director of the State Bank of Patiala.
During the 1982 Asian Games he was also President of the Asian Games Federation. However, the body was disbanded immediately after the games. In its place, the Olympic Council of Asia was formed. The Raja was the chief architect in the formation of the OCA. In fact, at the time of his death, his son Randhir Singh, who has donned India colours in the Olympic and the Asian Games and many other international meets as shooter, was the secretary-general of the Indian Olympic Association as well as the Olympic Council of Asia.
Though there is not an iota of doubt that this son Randhir Singh will carry forward the flame lit by Raja Bhalindra Singh in the world of sports, yet the latter will be remembered for putting Olympic movement on a firm footing not only in India but in Asia as well.
Mr Umrao Singh is one of the premier Sikh sports administrators in the country. He has been associated with the sports administration for the past three decades. During his long tenure which is still continuing Mr Umrao Singh has served on a number of sports committees and panels both in India and abroad. After the late Raja Bhalindra Singh, he was the next most powerful man in the special Organising Committee of the ninth Asian Games in 1992.
But Mr Umrao Singh is not only a sports administrator. He is a multi-dimensional personality. Besides being an able administrator and a fine sportsman, he is a successful politician too. However, he played a leading role in shaping India's hockey destiny. The affairs of the Indian Hockey Federation were a shambles in 1975. Being totally faction-ridden, the IHF was not in a position to prepare the Indian team for the acid test which they were to face in the third World Cup Hockey Tournament at Amsterdam in 1975. Being a close observer of the IHF affairs, Mr Umrao Singh advised the then Chief Minister of Punjab to approach the IOA for the preparatory camp prior to the World Cup, offering all expenses towards coaching and kitting.
What followed later is history. India, under the inspiring leadership of world renowned centre-half Ajit Pal Singh, stunned traditional rivals Pakistan in the final to pull out a sensational victory at Amsterdam.
Another fine aspect of Mr. Umrao Singh's personality is that he soft-spoken and suave. Never known for losing his temper, he will listen patiently to a point of view different from his own. It was under his advice that sports was made a compulsory subject in Punjab schools.
Though Mr Umrao Singh is known for his association with athletics, it was not his first love. Born at Guru Har Sahai in Ferozepore district, he had early education at NAC High School, Burewal. Later, he studied and played for SN and FC College, Lahore. Hockey caught his fancy in the school days. It was only later that he came to be associated with a number of sports organisations. However, athletics took his prime time. He not only served on the state associations and national federations, but he contributed a great deal in promoting sports culture in Asia. He is at present associated with the Olympic Council of Asia.
Mr Umrao Singh is a close observer of the Indian sports scene which suffers from various ills. Yet like other administrators, he is helpless in the present scheme of things. However, none can deny the fact that sports administrators, both past and present, have helped in creating a vast network of sports infrastructure in the country. India is today one of the leading sporting nations in Asia. It boasts of the best facilities in sports, thanks to able sports administrators, who opted for the latest equipment and applied scientific approach to the concept of sports.
A great organiser, a strict disciplinarian and a crusader that is Mr. Inderjit Singh Bindra. He is ruthlessly blunt. As a result some fear him while others respect him for the same reason. Yet no one can deny the fact that Mr Bindra possesses great organisational skill. He has demonstrated this ability time and again. The successful conduct of the Reliance Cup Criket Tournament, jointly hosted by India and Pakistan, in 1987 propelled him to the frontline of sports administrators in the country. He was the guiding force behind the Reliance Cup show.
But he has not confined himself to cricket alone. During the period that Mr. Bindra was busy organising the Reliance Cup, he was also the President of the Table Tennis Federation of India. In fact, Mr Bindra took the TTFI under his command when his friend , Mr S.P. Bagla, relinquished the charge as chief of the federation. As is his wont, he mobilised great resources for the federation which then enjoyed the privilege of hosting the 39th World Table Tennis Championship from February 18 to March 1, 1987, at Delhi.
During the organisation of the 39th World Table Tennis Championships, he also served as one of the Asian representatives on the International Table Tennis Federation Council. Other members of the panel included Saliman Aljabhan, Rabee H.Al Turk, Koji Kimura, Li Jong Ho and Yap Yong Yih.
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