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, having fought valiantly since he tested positive last month.
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”.
“It is with extreme sadness that we would like to inform you that Milkha Singh Ji passed away at 11.30 pm on the 18th of June 2021,” read a family statement.
The family said the legendary sprinter fought hard, “but God has his ways and it was perhaps true love and companionship that both our mother Nirmal Ji and now Dad have passed away in a matter of 5 days.”
“We are deeply indebted to the doctors at PGI for their valiant efforts and the love and prayers we received from across the world and from yourselves,” it added.
The former Indian sprinter had tested positive for COVID-19 last month and was in isolation at his home in Chandigarh before he was admitted to the ICU of Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER) hospital in Chandigarh.
His wife, Nirmal Milkha Singh succumbed to Covid-19 at the age of 85 on June 13.
The legendary athlete is a four-time Asian Games gold-medallist and 1958 Commonwealth Games champion.
He is still the only Indian athlete to win gold in the Asian and Commonwealth Championship.
He was awarded the Padma Shri, India’s fourth-highest civilian honor, in recognition of his sporting achievements.
He is survived by one son and three daughters. His son Jeev Milkha Singh is also a renowned golfer.
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