To commemorate the 2012 LondonOlympics, 361 tube stations in Londonwere recently named after Olympic stars of the past. Three Indian hockey greatsfigure in that – Dyan Chand, Roop Singh and Leslie Claudius. They are the onlyIndians to make the grade.
Dyan Chand (1905-1979) isconsidered to be the greatest hockey player of all times. This superb CentreForward played for India in Amsterdam (1928) Los Angeles(1932) and, as Captain, in Berlin(1936) Olympics. Indiawon gold medals at all the three Games. The President of India awarded himPadma Bhushan in 1956.
Ihad the honour of meeting him in 1957 at the Bombay Hockey Nationals. He wasthe Chief Guest at the match in which I played for Kerala against the mighty Punjab. After the match which we lost 0-3, Dayan Chandpraised my goalkeeping effort and said that it was one of the best he had seen.Great compliment.
RoopSingh (1910-1977) was Dyan Chand’s brother. He played in the 1932 and 1936Olympics for Indiaas Left-in forward. The Los Angeles Olympic Hockey Final against the USA was, itcould be said, a family affair. Dyan Chand scored eight goals and Roop Singhten goals in that match which Indiawon 24-1.
LeslieClaudius (b. 1927) was one of India’s alltime greats. If I remember correctly, his position was Left Half. I have, withgreat admiration, watched him play. This man from Calcuttarepresented India in four consecutiveOlympics – London (1948), Helsinki(1952), Melbourne 1956) and Rome(1960). He won gold medals in the first three of these and, as Captain, asilver medal at Rome.That is a record.
Claudiuswas awarded the Padma Shri by the President in 1971. His son Robert alsorepresented India in hockeyat the at the 1978 World Cup in Mexico.Tragically, Robert died in a road accident.
Givenbelow are photographs (from Wikimedia Commons) of the first three Indian Hockeyteams to the Olympics:
1932 Team on board N.Y. K. Haruna Maru