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Balbir Singh is No. 1 Sikh hockey player

Legendary Balbir Singh Sr. who won three successive gold medals for India was chosen as the No. 1 hockey player.

india Updated: Apr 27, 2006 12:42 IST
Indo-Asian News Service
Indo-Asian News Service

Legendary Balbir Singh (senior), who won three successive Olympics gold medals, was on Wednesday adjudged the No. 1 Sikh hockey player produced by India.

Balbir, the 81-year-old versatile centre forward, was present at a function in New Delhi at which the names of the Top 10 'Sardars of Hockey' were announced after a high-profile 10-member jury, headed by former Chief Justice of India J.S. Verma, picked them a day earlier.

The decision to pick Balbir Singh (senior), who won the gold at the 1948 London, 1952 Helsinki and 1956 Melbourne Olympics, was unanimous, said Verma. He pointed out that it was difficult task to choose just 10 from so many luminaries.

"I'm honoured that you people picked me as the No. 1 'Sardar' of hockey, though initially I was a bit reluctant about the concept," Balbir, who is now settled in Canada, said.

He, however, said that when Sundeep Misra, a hockey journalist who runs and the brain behind the concept, explained him the idea he agreed to be part of the event.

"The top five players - Balbir Singh (senior), late Udham Singh, Harbinder Singh Chimni, late Prithipal Singh, Ajit Pal Singh and Balbir Singh (Railways) - will be made into half-an-hour documentary film within six months and a coffee-table will be made on all 10 of them," said Misra.

The other five chosen as part of the top 10 were late Dharam Singh (senior), Balbir Singh (Railways), late Surjit Singh, Pargat Singh and Balbir Singh (Services).

The top 10 were chosen from a short lit of 30 players who have done India proud over the years.

Apart from Balbir Singh (Railways), who could not make it to the function, all other living players picked and short-listed were present at the Ashoka Hotel, making it a unique congregation of hockey legends.

The search for the best 10 Sikh players was done as the community has made huge contribution to the game in the country, said Misra.

The Sikhs played a vital role in India winning eight Olympic gold medals, starting from 1928. Six of those medals were won successively, between 1928 and 1956, and the last one came at Moscow.

Misra said he would be travelling to various parts of the world to film the documentary and that talks are on with History Channel to have the documentary beamed on it.

First Published: Apr 27, 2006 12:42 IST