One of India’s finest hockey players, a double Olympic gold medallist, Keshav Datt passed away in the early hours on July 7, 2021. He was the last surviving member of the Indian hockey team in the historic 1948 London Games. He was 95.
A product of the famous Government College, Lahore — which also produced Olympians like Syed Jaffar, Commander Nandy Singh and Munir Dar — Datt, born in Lahore on December 29, 1925, participated in the 1948 London and 1952 Helsinki Games respectively.
He was mentored by the legendary Dhyanchand and progressed rapidly, playing alongside KD Singh Babu. Datt came into the limelight while representing Punjab in the National Championship in pre-Partition India. After independence, he moved to Bombay and later to Calcutta in 1950, representing Bombay and Bengal at the National Championships.
Datt was a member of the Indian hockey team that won the gold medal at the 1948 London Olympics. Four years later, he was the vice-captain of the Indian team at the Helsinki Games that bagged another gold medal.
He was widely regarded as one of the finest half-backs in Indian hockey. In his autobiography “Goal”, Dhyan Chand rated Datt as one of the finest half-backs of that time.
Datt won Calcutta Hockey League (CHL) six times and the Beighton Cup three times in his 10-year Bagan career. He was the first non-football sportsperson to be conferred the Mohun Bagan Ratna, in 2019.