The two-time Olympic gold medalist Keshav Chandra Datt, the last surviving member of the Indian hockey team at the 1948 London Games, passed away here early Wednesday, according to a statement issued by Hockey Bengal (HB). He was 95 years old.
During the 1948 Olympics, he played a key role in India’s historic 4-0 victory over home country Great Britain at the Wembley Stadium in London. It was the first gold for the country post-independence. The last rites of Datt will be performed shortly after his daughter Anjali’s return from abroad, an HB official said.
Hockey Bengal paid homage to the two-time Olympic Gold medalist at the London & Helsinki Olympics and the Jewel of India, Shri Keshav Datt.
— Hockey India (@TheHockeyIndia) July 12, 2021
Born on December 29, 1925, Datt studied at Lahore’s Government College – which also produced Olympians like Syed Jaffar, Commander Nandy Singh, and Munir Dar – and competed in the 1948 London and 1952 Helsinki Olympics. In 1956, he was reportedly unable to participate in his third Olympics due to “professional commitments with Brooke Bond”.
Upon relocating to India after independence, Datt played for Bombay and then Bengal, and toured East Africa in 1947 with the Dhyan Chand-led Indian squad. He played 22 matches as a half-back and scored two goals. As part of an exhibition match in 1949, Datt faced off against hockey wizard Dhyan Chand, who led the rest of the India team.
Dhyan Chand described Datt as one of the best half-backs of his time in his autobiography Goal. Additionally, he was an accomplished badminton player and the No.1 player in Bengal in his time. With Datt’s passing, Independent India lost its last living link to its first sporting glory.