Balbir Singh Sr and Leslie Claudius, who were both part of Indian hockey teams that won gold medals at three successive Olympic Games from 1948, will be among 34 gold medal winners who will be honoured by Hockey India at a function on June 24, a hockey India media release said. It will be the first time in India that so many Olympic gold medalists will be in one place.
Balbir Singh Sr, who was a member of three Olympic gold medal winning teams, in London (1948), Helsinki (1952) and Melbourne (1956), was a feared centre-forward. Often known as Balbir Singh senior, he also coached Indian hockey team in the 1971 World Cup. He received the Padma Shri in 1957.
Leslie Claudius, who holds the Guinness Book of World Record along with Udham Singh for maximum gold medals in field hockey, is of Anglo-Indian descent. He received the Padma Shri in 1971.
"It is our way of recalling the contribution of these legends to our sport and to the country," Hockey India Secretary-General Dr. Narinder Batra said.
"The London Games hockey competition will be the first Olympics after the formation of Hockey India and we want to avail the opportunity to celebrate their gold medal winning feats.
"I am sure the presence of the hockey legends will boost the Indian team that will leave for France and Spain to prepare for the competition at the Olympic Games in London. The sight of the gold medals can be most inspirational," Dr Batra said, indicating that invitations have been sent out to the gold medal winning players.
At 87 years of age, Balbir Singh Sr. is the oldest of the Indian Olympic gold medalists. Keshav Dutt, G Nandy Singh, Jaswant Singh, Raghbir Lal and Col. Haripal Kaushik have been part of two gold medal winning teams.
The list of 34 invitees:
Balbir Singh Sr., Keshav Dutt, Leslie Claudius, G Nandy Singh, Jaswant Singh, Raghbir Lal, RS Bhola, Hardayal Singh, Haripal Kaushik, A.S Bakshi, Gurdev Singh, Charanjit Singh, Gurbux Singh, Harbinder Singh, Dharam Singh, Balbir Singh, Ali Sayeed, Darshan Singh, V Bhaskaran, Bir Bahadur Chettri, Allan Schofield, Sylvanus Dung Dung, Rajinder Singh, Davinder Singh, Gurmail Singh, Ravinder Pal Singh, MM Sommaiya, Maharaj Krishan Kaushik, Charanjit Kumar, Mervyn Fernandis, Amarjit Singh Rana, Mohammed Shahid, Zafar Iqbal and Surinder Singh Sodhi.