Milkha Singh, one of the biggest names in Indian sport and the country’s first track and field superstar, passed away after a month-long battle with COVID-19. Singh breathed his last Friday night two days after he was shifted out of the Covid intensive care unit at Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh.
“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," a statement released by Singh’s family read.
“He 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," the statement further added.
Singh had developed complications, including fever and dropping of oxygen saturation level. The 91-year-old, who contracted COVID-19 last month, had tested negative for the virus on Wednesday.
Milkha’s 85-year-old wife Nirmal Kaur, who had also been infected by the virus, passed away at a private hospital in Mohali on Sunday.
Kaur was a former national women’s volleyball team captain. 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.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi paid his tribute tweeting, " We we have lost a colossal sportsperson, who captured the nation’s imagination and had a special place in the hearts of countless Indians."
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. pic.twitter.com/h99RNbXI28— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) June 18, 2021
The legendary athlete is a four-time Asian Games gold medallist and 1958 Commonwealth Games champion 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.