Indian sprint legend Milkha Singh died on Friday after a month-long battle with COVID-19, during which he lost his former national volleyball captain wife Nirmal Kaur to the same ailment. The Padma Shri awardee was 91 and is survived by his golfer son Jeev Milkha Singh and three daughters. 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.
Tributes poured in from across the entertainment spectrum and by all sections of society. Several Bollywood celebrities including Shah Rukh Khan, Akshay Kumar, Taapsee Pannu and Raveena Tandon paid heartfelt tributes to the Flying Sikh. “May you have a golden run in heaven, Flying Sikh," Akshay Kumar tweeted. Shah Rukh wrote, “The Flying Sikh may no longer be with us in person but his presence will always be felt and his legacy will remain unmatched… An inspiration to me… an inspiration to millions. Rest in Peace Milkha Singh sir."
Incredibly sad to hear about the demise of #MilkhaSingh ji. The one character I forever regret not playing on-screen! May you have a golden run in heaven, Flying Sikh. Om shanti, Sir 🙏🏻— Akshay Kumar (@akshaykumar) June 19, 2021
The Flying Sikh may no longer be with us in person but his presence will always be felt and his legacy will remain unmatched… An inspiration to me… an inspiration to millions. Rest in Peace Milkha Singh sir.— Shah Rukh Khan (@iamsrk) June 18, 2021
And he flew away 💔— taapsee pannu (@taapsee) June 18, 2021
Had the honour of meeting you Sir, you will always have a special place in all our hearts ! Whenever we need to be inspired, “bhaag milkhe bhaag,” will resound in our ears ! Om Shanti. 🙏🏼 https://t.co/UZC6chEQg8— Raveena Tandon (@TandonRaveena) June 18, 2021
The legendary athlete is a four-time Asian Games gold medallist and the 1958 Commonwealth Games champion but his greatest performance remains the fourth-place finish in the 400m final of the 1960 Rome Olympics.
Milkha Singh also represented India in the 1956 and 1964 Olympics and was bestowed the Padma Shri in 1959.