It is with an overwhelming sense of sadness that the Asian Hockey Federation condole the death of hockey legend Balbir Singh Dosanjh, a three-time Olympic Games gold medal winner with the Indian team. It is with a deep sense of gratitude that we will remember the way he played the game, shared his knowledge when coaching teams and conducted himself off the pitch.
Balbir Sr was the most decorated athlete in Indian sports history with Olympic medals in 1948, 1952 and 1956 Summer Games. He coached the Indian team which won the Bronze Medal at the 1971 World Cup and was Manager of the Indian team that won the Gold Medal at the 1975 World Cup. He had scored five goals in India’s 6-1 victory over the Netherlands in the Gold medal match of the 1952 Helsinki Olympics. It is the record for the most goals in an Olympic Games hockey final. Under his Captaincy, India scored 38 goals and conceded none on its way to the Gold medal in 1956 Melbourne Olympics.
His abiding love for the game saw him in various coaching roles with the Indian team from 1971 when it won the bronze medal in the World Cup through to 1975 when it won the World Cup in Kuala Lumpur and the Asian Games silver in New Delhi in 1982.
A measure of a player’s greatness is not just in the skill he exhibits on the hockey pitch but also in the fondness and affection with which he is remembered across nations many years after he last graced the game. Balbir Singh Dosanjh’s life is ample testimony to his greatness. Named as one of the 16 Iconic Olympians by the International Olympic Committee in 2012.
We will always cherish the simplicity, humility and pride that he brought to bear in his own charming way. His ready wit and willingness to share his vast knowledge were stand out features. Indeed, Balbir Singh leaves behind a rich legacy that cuts across all sport and physical boundaries.
The Prayers of Asian Hockey Family are with his family and the entire sporting community that mourns his passing.