The two-time Olympian died on January 27 at his home in Una, Himachal Pradesh. Singh was 90 and had suffered a cardiac arrest following prolonged illness.
Legendary hockey player Charanjit Singh, who had captained the gold-winning Indian team in 1964 Tokyo Olympics, died on January 27 at his home in Una, Himachal Pradesh. Singh was 90. He suffered a cardiac arrest after prolonged illness. The former midfielder is survived by two sons and a daughter.
The two-time Olympian was part of the team that won the silver medal at the Asian Games in 1962.
His demise is a loss for the hockey fraternity, said Hockey India President Gyanendro Nigombam.
"Even in his old age, he would light up every time there were conversations about hockey and he could accurately recall every great moment he was part of during India's golden days of hockey,” Nigombam told PTI, adding that the legend will always be remembered for his incredible skills on the field and humility off it.
Charanjit Singh, the midfielder
Charanjit Singh was born on February 3, 1931, in Una, Himachal Pradesh. He did his schooling from Col Brown Cambridge School, Dehradun, and Punjab University. He was passionate about playing hockey since childhood and joined the national hockey team in 1950. Singh toured Pakistan with the Indian team in 1951.
Singh was given the Arjuna Award in 1963. After his 1964 win, Singh was honoured with the Padma Shri the same year.
India had dominated hockey since 1920s, winning six back-to-back Olympic golds between 1928 and 1956. In the 1960 Rome Olympics, Singh was emerging as one of the chief architects of India's stunning performance under skipper Leslie Claudius. However, he was forced to sit out in the final against arch-rivals Pakistan following an unfortunate injury. India lost to Pakistan by a slender 0-1 margin.
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Four years later, Singh returned for the Olympic Games as the captain. The team stormed into the knockout stage with ease, finishing at the top in the league stage. It reached the final after defeating Australia 3-1 in the semis.
In the final, they were faced with arch-rivals Pakistan again. Memories of the previous Olympics, where India had to settle for silver, were still fresh. Both teams were strong contenders for the gold medal during that time and India had already faced a challenging outing against Pakistan. Such was the intensity of the match that the umpires had to briefly interrupt play to let players cool off.
"I told my boys to focus on the game, rather than wasting time talking to them. We were tested hard but also showed great character and won the match by a narrow 1-0 margin to return home with that historic gold medal," Singh had told Hockey India Flashback Series. India won its seventh gold medal at the Olympic Games that year.
"Winning two medals for the country has been a moment of pride and honour for me,” Singh had said recollecting his wins in Olympics and Asian Games.
After retiring from international hockey, Singh became the director of the physical education department in Himachal Pradesh University in Shimla.
Five years ago, Singh suffered a stroke and had been paralysed since then. According to his son, he could walk using a stick. However, his health deteriorated in the last couple of months, his younger son V.P. Singh told news agency PTI. Singh’s wife had passed away 12 years ago. His elder son, who is a doctor, lives in Canada, while his younger son was with him at the time of his death.
(Edited by : Shoma Bhattacharjee)
First Published: IST