More than joy, the news of Dhyan Chand being recommended for the Bharat Ratna, has come as a welcome relief for the hockey wizard's family. Dhyan Chand's family has fought for years for the honour and almost came close to clinching it last year till cricket superstar Sachin Tendulkar pipped him at the post.
On Tuesday, the sports ministry proposed Dhyan Chand's name for the highest civilian award in the country. But the pain of being the second sportsperson ever to win the Bharat Ratna will probably won't go away quickly.
"Babuji (Major Dhyan Chand) should have been the first sportsperson to get the Bharat Ratna. But I am happy that the BJP government has rectified the mistake of the UPA government," said Dhyan Chand's son Ashok Kumar, himself a hockey Olympian.
Ashok Kumar is legitimately proud of his father who helped India win three Olympic gold medals. The debate on who is a bigger legend can go on forever, but there is no doubt that Dhyan Chand was the brightest star in a sport that was played worldwide and India was a superpower.
"There is no player in India's history who could match his ability. Dhyan Chand won three gold medals for India at the Olympics -- in Amsterdam (1928), in Los Angeles (1932) and in Berlin (1936) and made the country proud," said Ashok Kumar.
"I would like to thank Madhya Pradesh's hockey enthusiasts, international hockey players and Olympians from across the country for struggling so hard to make it possible," said Ashok Kumar, adding: "The state government also supported us."
It was in 2011 when the 'battle' to win Bharat Ratna for Dhyan Chand started in earnest. The Union government ignored an appeal by 82 MPs who recommended Dhyan Chand's name for the Bharat Ratna. However, the ministry forwarded his name along with that of Beijing Olympic gold medallist shooter Abhinav Bindra and mountaineer Tenzing Norgay for the award in January, 2012.
A six-member delegation met sports minister Jitendra Singh on July 12, 2011 and on July 19, 2013, the sports ministry recommended Dhyan Chand's name for the highest honour. However, in November, the award was conferred to Sachin Tendulkar, who had just retired from Test cricket.