KD Singh: Next only to Dhyan Chand
Kanwar Digvijay Singh 'Babu', captain of the Indian hockey team at the 1952 Helsinki Olympics, was perhaps the best known player of the country after the great Dhyan Chand.india Updated: Aug 09, 2004 22:24 IST
Kanwar Digvijay Singh 'Babu', captain of the Indian hockey team at the 1952 Helsinki Olympics, was perhaps the best known player of the country after the great Dhyan Chand.
Though he began his career as early as 1938 and made a big impression too, it was only after the Second World War that he really became a big name, his reputation for scoring goals almost matching that of Dhyan Chand.
His appetite for goals was a real revelation when he toured British East Africa - comprising Kenya, Uganda and Tanganyika. Captained by Dhyan Chand, the Indian team scored 200 goals on this tour and Babu scored 70 of them, the highest by any player.
By now he had earned the reputation of being one of the best inside-rights in the world and was an automatic choice for the Indian team for the London Olympics in 1948.
Such was the reputation he had built up during the war years at home, that though this was the first time he was being selected, he was named vice captain to Kishen Lal, another giant of those years.
India had an outstanding run in the tournament, conceding just two goals while scoring 25 on the way to the gold medal. This was also the first time that Pakistan had entered the Olympics.
Four years later at Helsinki, Babu was that much more matured and certainly one of the brightest stars on the hockey firmament.
India had a fairly easy run up to the gold medal with Babu's performance once again attracting worldwide attention. He was rewarded with the Helms Trophy for being the best sportsman of Asia and the best hockey player of the world.
Other honours followed this great player as he continued to serve the cause of hockey.
He became the first hockey player to be honoured with the Padma Shri, the country's fourth highest civilian honour. He was the coach of the Indian team to the 1972 Munich Olympics, perhaps the last big assignment for this star of the 1950s.
After his death in 1978, the Uttar Pradesh government honoured his memory by naming the hockey stadium in capital Lucknow city after him.
First Published: Aug 05, 2004 12:16 IST