National Sports Day: Remembering Major Dhyan Chand on his birth anniversary

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Kolkata: Just like any other culture, sport is also very varied in India. A country where most people are conditioned to be passionate only about football and cricket, few people might know, India celebrates an entire day to cherish all kind of sports held in the country. August 29, the birthday of legendary hockey olympian Dhyan Chand Singh, is observed as the National Sports Day in the country.

The sole purpose of the National Sports Day lies in glorifying the spirit of sportsmanship and propagating messages of various sports. The day was first inducted into the long list of celebratory days in 2012. Ever since then, this day has become the centre of attraction for all sports lovers.

Major Dhyan Chand

Born on August 29, 1905, in the city of Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh, Dhyan Chand Singh was regarded as a prodigy in hockey. During his career, Dhyan Chand won the Olympic gold medal on three occasions –1928, 1932 and 1936, which made him an exemplary figure in the rich sporting history of India.

Dhyan Chand scoring goal in 1936 Berlin Olympics (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

During the 1936 Berlin Olympics, Adolf Hitler was impressed seeing him play. Dhyan Chand’s bold personality will always be remembered when he refused to salute Hitler during the final against Germany in 1936.

Dhyan Chand standing on the left (1936 Olympics)

Dhyan Chand was conferred with the Padma Bhushan in 1956. Thereafter his birthday has been observed as the National Sports Day, with various sports events been held across the country.

Indian Sports Awards Ceremony

The day is observed to spread awareness on the importance of sports and physical activities. The President of India, on the same day, honours prominent sportspersons who have made the country proud on the year with prestigious awards like, Khel Ratna, Arjuna Award, Dronacharya Award and Dhyan Chand Award.

(From L) Dhyan Chand award, Khel Ratna, Dronacharya award and Arjuna award 

The highest sporting honour Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna is reserved for an outstanding performer usually handed out to the Olympic medallist in an Olympic year. Viswanathan Anand received the first Khel Ratna Award in 1991, for his outstanding performance in Chess.

Arjuna award recognises the achievements of the athletes in the seasons gone by. First Arjuna award winners in the year 1961 were – Saleem Durani (cricket), Manuel Aaron (chess), LB D’Souza (boxing), Sarabjeet Singh (basketball), Nandu Natekar (badminton), Gurucharan Singh Randhawa (athletics). Krishna Das was the first Arjuna award winner for Archery in the year 1981.

The Dronacharya Award is conferred on the best coaches in the country, including foreign coaches who have contributed to the development of sports in India. The first recipients of the award were Bhalchandra Bhaskar Bhagwat (wrestling), Om Prakash Bhardwaj (boxing), and OM Nambiar (athletics), who were honoured in 1985.

The Dhyan Chand Award recognises the lifetime contribution of an athlete in his field. The first recipients of the award were Shahuraj Birajdar (boxing), Ashok Diwan (hockey), and Aparna Ghosh (basketball) who were honoured in 2002.

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