Covid-19: India mourns death of legendary Milkha Singh

New Delhi - Milkha’s 85-year-old wife, who had also been infected by the coronavirus, passed away on Sunday.


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Published: Sat 19 Jun 2021, 12:04 AM

Legendary Indian athlete Milkha Singh passed away at the age of 91, a family spokesperson told news agency PTI.

Singh, who missed the 400m Olympic bronze medal by a whisker at the 1960 Rome Games, lost his battle to Covid-19 on Friday night.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi shared his grief on Twitter.

“In the passing away of Shri Milkha Singh Ji, we have lost a colossal sportsperson, who captured the nation’s imagination and had a special place in the hearts of countless Indians. His inspiring personality endeared himself to millions. Anguished by his passing away,” Modi wrote on Twitter.

The four-time Asian Games gold medallist was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of a top hospital in Chandigarh due to “dipping levels of oxygen”.

The Padma Shri awardee was 91 and is survived by his golfer son Jeev Milkha Singh and three daughters.

“He breathed his last at 11.30pm,” a family spokesperson told PTI.

His condition turned critical on Friday as he developed complications, including fever and dipping oxygen saturation levels, after a bout with Covid-19, in the Intensive Care Unit of the PGIMER hospital in Chandigarh.

He had contracted Covid-19 last month and tested negative for the virus on Wednesday when he was shifted to general ICU in another block of the hospital.

Milkha had been ‘stable’ before Thursday evening.

Milkha’s 85-year-old wife Nirmal, who had also been infected by the virus, passed away at a private hospital in Mohali on Sunday.

Milkha was admitted to PGIMER on June 3 after his oxygen levels dipped at home following treatment at the Fortis hospital in Mohali for a week.

Apart from the four Asian Games gold medals, Milkha also won the 1958 Commonwealth Games gold medal but his greatest performance remains the fourth-place finish in the 400m final of the 1960 Rome Olympics.

He also represented India in the 1956 and 1964 Olympics and was bestowed the Padma Shri in 1959.

Senior BJP leader Smriti Irani said an era came to an end with the death of the iconic athlete.

“An era comes to an end as the ‘Flying Sikh’ Milkha Singh ji bids adieu to the world. A legendary sprinter, he was the epitome of dedication, humility & National glory. Milkha Singh Ji’s inspirational journey & contribution to Indian sports will be remember forever,” Irani tweeted.

West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee was also saddened by the news.

“Saddened to hear about the demise of Shri Milkha Singh Ji. A legendary sportsman, he will be dearly remembered. My sincere condolences to his family, loved ones and fans across the world,” Banerjee tweeted on Friday.

And Indian tennis star Sania Mirza remembered Milkha as a kind-hearted person.

“Had the honour of meeting you and you blessed me so many times .. the kindest and warmest. together RIP Milkha Singh sir .. the world will miss a legend like you .. #MilkhaSingh,” Mirza wrote on Twitter.

Harbhajan Singh was also heartbroken after hearing the news.

“Very sad,heartbreaking to hear flying sikh Sardar Milkha singh ji is no more..” the former India spinner tweeted on Friday night.


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