India’s sports icon Milkha Singh, 91, has passed away after a long battle with COVID-19 at the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education (PGIMER) Hospital in Chandigarh. He was admitted on June 3 to the ICU due to falling oxygen levels. The former sprinter had represented India in the 1956 and 1964 Olympics.
According to various reports, Singh’s condition became critical on Friday evening as he developed complications, including fever and falling oxygen saturation levels in the ICU of the PGIMER Hospital. In an official statement, the hospital said despite the best efforts by their medical team, Milkha Singh ji could not be retrieved from his critical condition and after a brave fight, he left for his heavenly abode at 11.30pm.
“It is with extreme sadness that we would like to inform you that Milkha Singh ji passed away at 11.30pm on the 18th of June 2021. 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 five days,” the family said in an official statement.
Milkha Singh’s 85-year-old wife, former national volleyball captain, Nirmal Kaur had also passed away to COVID-19 five days ago. They are now survived by their golfer son Jeev Milkha Singh and three daughters Dr Mona Singh, Aleeza Grover and Sonia Sanwalka.
“We have lost a colossal sportsperson, who captured that nation’s imagination and had a special place in the hearts of countless Indians. His inspiring personality endeared himself to millions,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in a tribute. “I had spoken to Shri Milkha Singh ji just a few days ago. Little did I know it would be our last conversation. Several budding athletes will derive strength from his life journey. My condolences to his family and many admirers all over the world.”
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
President Ram Nath Kovind and Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu, condoled the demise of the sporting icon. “The passing away of sporting icon Milkha Singh fills my heart with grief. The story of his struggles and strength of character will continue to inspire generations of Indians. My deepest condolences to his family members, and countless admirers,” the official account of Rashtrapati Bhavan tweeted.
“Deeply saddened to hear that Shri Milkha Singh ji has passed away. Through his scintillating performance on the world stage, the legendary athlete has stirred and inspired every Indian – and not just in sports,” the official account of the Vice President tweeted. “His heart-touching life journey will continue to motivate many more aspiring Indian athletes to dream big and push their boundaries. My condolences to his family and admirers in this hour of grief. Om Shanti.”