January 27, 2022, India mourns the death of hockey legend, Charanjit Singh, who captained the national team at the gold-winning Tokyo Olympics in 1964. Singh was a native of Una, Himachal Pradesh, where he took his last breaths before losing battle to cardiac arrest that followed prolonged age-related illness. He was to turn a year older next month and is survived by two sons and one daughter.
Five years ago he suffered a stroke and has been paralysed since then. “Dad was paralysed after suffering a stroke five years back. He used to walk with a stick but since the last couple of months, his health deteriorated and this morning he left us,” his younger son V P Singh told PTI.
“His last rites will be performed today after my sister reaches Una from Delhi,” V P Singh said.
He lost his wife 12 years ago. While the eldest son is a doctor in Canada, the younger son was with him when he took his last breath. The only daughter of Mr Singh is married and based in New Delhi.
Singh, midfielder and two-time Olympian was remarkable in the fields. He was a part of team India during its glorious days in the Olympics. He led the team in the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, defeating Pakistan in the final and participated in the Indian team in Rome Olympics, 1960, where India claimed silver.
He was an alumnus of Col Brown Cambridge School, Dehradun and Panjab University. After his acclaimed career in international hockey, he served as the Director of the Physical Education Department in Himachal Pradesh University, Shimla.
Singh was a devoted hockey player and still had memories of the Rome Olympics where India lost by a delicate 0-1 margin against arch-rival Pakistan. Four years later, under his captaincy, India defeated Pakistan and clinched gold in the Tokyo Olympics.
Recollecting the fond memory in the lead-up to last year’s Tokyo Olympics, Charanjit had told Hockey India Flashback Series: “Both the teams were regarded among the strongest teams during that time, and we had a very challenging outing against them (Pakistan).
“Moreover, you know how intense it becomes when you play against Pakistan that too in the final of the Olympics. The match was also interrupted briefly to cool down the tempers of both teams.
“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.”
“Winning two medals for the country has been a moment of pride and honour for me. You know, after winning the gold medal at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, we were accorded a warm welcome on our arrival at the airport, a lot of fans had assembled, and it was a very special feeling for every one of us,” the eminent further shared.
“Hockey was a very popular sport in India. It was given more importance because of the rich history, and our country had dominated in this sport in early years. We had won many gold medals at a prestigious event like the Olympics, and that was the key reason behind it.”
“He was a legendary halfback who inspired an entire generation of players. He was a very cool-headed captain and he will forever be remembered for his incredible skills on the field and for his humility off the field,” Hockey India president Gyanendro Nigombam added.