Sikh Hockey Player
Sansarpur village on the outskirts of Jalandhar is well known for producing top hockey players for India. One whose stickwork dazzled and fascinated the people was Udham Singh, the centre forward in many of India’s battles. He could have become the only Indian, a Sikh, to represent India in five successive Olympic Games but that was not to be, injury prevented him from acquiring that honour. Now after Leslie Claudius, he is the only Indian player who has donned national colours in four successive Olympics. These were 1952 Helsinki Olympics (under D.S.Babu) , 1956 Melbourne Olympics (under Balbir Singh), 1960 Rome Olympics’ (under L. Claudius) and Tokyo Olympics (under Charanjit Singh).
Udham Singh has been known to be a versatile forward. He could play at left-inside, right-inside, centre-forward or click at centre-half position too. This man has dedicated and devoted his entire life to sports and still, he maintains himself as fit as during his heydays. B.S.F. the hockey team full of renowned Olympians such as Ajit Pal, Baldev Singh and others. It is on record that once when his team was trailing in a tournament he got himself into the playing kit and turned the tables.
Before joining the B.S.F. he served in the Punjab Police. One thing which surprises one is how and why so great a player just failed to lead the country in any Asian or the Olympic Games. His hockey career spans from 1949 to 1964 and during this period, he led India thrice, first in 1953 when the Indian team went on a tour of Warsaw (Poland). Secondly Udham was the captain on Indians’ East African and European tours in 1959. Last time he led the Indian team on Australian and New Zealand tours. However, giving full recognition and respect to his services which he rendered to the nation;. the Indian Government awarded him the coveted Arjuna Award.
Following is the full chart of his hockey career:
1952 Helsinki Olympics
1953 (as captain) Warsaw (Poland)
1956 Melbourne Olympics
1958 Asian Games, Tokyo (Japan)
1959 (as captain) East African & European tour
1960 Rome;:Olympics ,
1961. (as skipper) Australia-New Zealand tour
1963 Leon (France)
1964 Tokyo Olympics