Harpal Singh Bedi
New Delhi: Charanjit Singh who led India to a historic Gold Medal in 1964 Tokyo Olympics, passed away in Una district, Himachal Pradesh Thursday due to age-related complications. He was 92.
A charismatic halfback, honoured with Padma Shri and Arjuna Award Charanjit Singh, was also part of the Indian team that won Silver in the 1960 Olympic Games in Rome.
Born on 20 November 1929, Charanjit Singh was an alumni of Col. Brown Cambridge School, Dehradun and Punjab University. After his illustrious career in international hockey, he worked as Director of Physical Education department in Himachal Pradesh University, in Shimla.
Condoling Charanjit Singh’s demise, Hockey India President Gyanendro Ningombam said, “It is a sad day for the hockey fraternity. 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 India’s golden days of hockey. 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. On behalf of Hockey India, I expressed my deepest condolences to his family.”In an interview to Hockey India n June, 2021 for the Flashback Series in the lead up to the Tokyo Olympic Games 2020, he had fondly remembered the final against Pakistan during the Tokyo Olympics in 1964.
He had nostalgically stated, “Both the teams were regarded among the strongest teams during that time, and we had a very challenging outing against them. 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.”
He recalled the grand welcome they received upon returning to India wearing the coveted Gold medal around their necks. “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.”
“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 reasons behind it,” He had stated while talking about Indian hockey’s golden era.