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Raghbir Singh Bhola
Ragbhir Singh Bhola at the 1998 Asian Games
Birth nameRaghbir Singh Bhola
Born(1927-08-18)18 August 1927[1]
Multan, Pakistan [2]
Died21 January 2019(2019-01-21) (aged 91)[3]
New Delhi, India[3]
AllegianceIndia India
Service/branch Indian Air Force
Years of service1952-1978
British RAF OF-5.svg
Group Captain
Sports career
Height6 ft (183 cm)
SportField hockey
PositionLeft Winger

Raghbir Singh Bhola (18 August 1927 – 21 January 2019) was an Indian Airforce Officer[4] and international hockey player who represented India in the 1956 Melbourne and 1960 Rome Olympics, winning a gold and silver medal respectively for the country. He was also awarded the Arjuna Award[5] for his contributions to Indian Hockey in 2000.

Early life and education

Bhola, was born in a middle-class family in Multan (now Pakistan); his ancestors belonged to Pind Dadan Khan and his grandparents moved to Multan around the end of the 18th Century. He went to the Government Model High School, in Khanewal, Pakistan. Growing up in Khanewal, without electricity and only one communal water pump, his father used to wake-up the family early to collect water everyday and do other chores around the house. After graduating from high school, he moved to New Delhi for higher studies, where he studied Electrical Engineering from the Delhi College of Engineering, now known as Delhi Technological University (DTU). After completing his Electrical Engineering from DCE, he joined the Indian Air Force in February 1952. In 1962, Bhola was selected by the Indian Air Force to undergo a two-year post graduation course in Electrical Engineering at the College of Aeronautics, Carnfield University, UK which he completed successfully.[6]

Domestic hockey career

Government Model High School, in Khanewal, was known for its sporting facilities and Bhola thus developed an interest in sports. The standards were high, however,a and he got a chance to play only when the senior players did not turn up. His interest in sports was furthered by Dr. Khuda Baksh Awan, who encouraged him to play with his children. Bhola was a part of the Government Model High School Field Hockey team that won the Interschool XI Championship. When he moved to New Delhi, for higher studies, he represented D.A.V High School, Paharganj. He also played hockey for the Brothers Club at the intercollegiate level. While undergoing training at the Air Force Technical College, Banglore he was inducted into the Services Hockey team to play in the National Hockey Championship in March 1953.[2] The services team won the National Hockey Championship for the first time, this was the beginning of Field Hockey career at the National Level. From 1954 to 1960 Bhola captained the Indian Airforce Hockey and Services Hockey team, except in 1956, and won the Inter Services Hockey Championship thrice and the National Hockey Championship twice.

Participation in the Olympics

1956 Melbourne Olympics

Bhola was part of the 1956 Melbourne Olympics Indian Field Hockey squad. The team was captained by Balbir Singh and defeated Afghanistan 14 goals to 0, the United States 16-0 and Singapore 6-0 in the group stage and Germany 1-0 in the semifinals. India defeated Pakistan in the final 1-0, and brought home the gold medal.[7]

1960 Rome Olympics

Bhola was the only player to be selected from the Services Selection Board (SSB) for the Indian Field Hockey National Team to participate in a goodwill tour of Singapore and Malaysia in February 1954. In 1959, he was again selected to play on a goodwill tour of Egypt, Italy, Spain and Germany, in preparation for the 1960 Rome Olympics. For the 1960 Rome Olympics, the team was captained by Anglo-Indian Leslie Claudius. Bhola scored a total of 6 goals in the tournament: three goals against Denmark, one against Holland, one against New Zealand and the only goal (scored in extra time) against Australia in the quarterfinals. Bhola's extra-time penalty corner goal against Australia carried India into the semifinal where they beat Great Britain (1-0). India and Pakistan reached the finals again. Pakistan scored a goal in the first 10 minutes of the game after which India made several attempts to even the score, but were unsuccessful due to good saves by the Pakistan goalie. In the last 4 minutes of the game, Bhola got the ball, dodged right-half, right-front back, entered the shooting circle and took a left hand stroke at the goal, missing the mark by six inches. India lost to Pakistan and got a silver medal.[8]

Raghbir Singh Bhola - pic1.jpg


  1. ^ "Raghbir SINGH BHOLA - Olympic Hockey | India". 18 August 1927. Retrieved 27 January 2019.
  2. ^ a b Team Sportstar (22 January 2019). "Former India hockey player Raghbir Bhola passes away - Sportstar". Retrieved 27 January 2019.
  3. ^ a b "Former India hockey player Raghbir Singh Bhola passes away | Hockey News - Times of India". 22 January 2019. Retrieved 27 January 2019.
  4. ^ "Service Record for Group Captain Raghbir Singh Bhola 4299 AE(L)". []. Retrieved 27 January 2019.
  5. ^ "Arjuna Award". Hockey India. Retrieved 28 March 2021.
  6. ^ nimmi (21 August 1927). "Former Player Raghbir Singh Bhola-Indianmirror". Retrieved 27 January 2019.
  7. ^ "1956 Olympics: India pips Pakistan to win gold". The Hindu. Retrieved 27 January 2019.
  8. ^ "1960 Olympics: Pakistan ends India's dominance". The Hindu. Retrieved 27 January 2019.