Hari Chand

A Legendary Journey from Rural Punjab to Global Athletics Stardom

29 May, 24 | 8:40 AM4 min read


Hari Chand, one of India's most renowned distance runners, is best remembered for his incredible achievements in athletics, especially during the 1970s. He was born in Ghorewaha, Punjab, and later moved back there from Delhi.

His journey in athletics began in rural Punjab, where chasing rabbits in the fields as a child played a key role in developing his stamina and love for running. Chand's natural talent and dedication quickly propelled him to the forefront of Indian athletics.

Chand's standout moment came in the 1978 Bangkok Asian Games, where he won both the 5,000m and 10,000m events. Remarkably, he made a transition from running barefoot to using spikes just before these games, a change that significantly boosted his performance.

Another highlight of Chand's career was at the 1976 Montreal Olympics, where he set a national record in the 10,000m with a time of 28:48.72, a record that stood for nearly 33 years. He also competed in the 1980 Moscow Olympics in the 10,000m and the marathon.

Chand was originally trained by his father to be a wrestler, which contributed to his exceptional endurance. He first caught national attention in 1974, winning the national 5,000m and securing the second position in the 10,000m behind Shivnath Singh.

Chand was honored with the Arjuna Award in 1975 for his contributions to Indian athletics. After retiring from competition, he continued his involvement in the sport as a coach, completing his national coaching diploma in 1985.

Remembered for his determination and for popularizing long-distance running in India, Chand's legacy is fondly recalled by peers, including Adille J Sumariwalla, the president of the Athletics Federation of India and a former sprinter.