A couple of days after returning negative and after being shifted out of the Covid-ICU, four-time Asian Games gold medallist Milkha Singh passed away due to post-Covid complications at the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER) hospital here on Friday. He was 91.
“Dad just passed away,” his son and legendary golfer Jeev Milkha Singh confirmed.
The track, to him, was like an open book in which Milkha Singh found the “meaning and purpose of life”. And what a life he made for himself.
While the family is yet to come to terms with the passing away of Milkha Singh’s wife, 85-year-old Nirmal Kaur, who succumbed to Covid-related complications at a private hospital in Mohali on Sunday, the legendary athlete lost a valiant battle after developing fever and a dip in oxygen saturation level from Thursday night in the medical ICU of the PGI hospital.
President Ram Nath Kovind and Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted condolences at the passing away of Milkha Singh.
The passing of sporting icon Milkha Singh fills my heart with grief. The story of his struggles and strength of cha… https://t.co/PFWDcASwAn
— President of India (@rashtrapatibhvn) 1624047334000
In the passing away of Shri Milkha Singh Ji, we have lost a colossal sportsperson, who captured the nation’s imagin… https://t.co/arbRidazxr
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) 1624042595000
Punjab CM Amarinder Singh also took to Twitter to express his sadness at the passing away of the ‘Flying Sikh.’
Upset and saddened to hear of Milkha Singh Ji’s demise. It marks the end of an era and India & Punjab are poorer to… https://t.co/71ArL92c4C
— Capt.Amarinder Singh (@capt_amarinder) 1624044775000
The Padma Shri awardee had contracted Covid-19 on May 19, and was earlier admitted at the Covid ICU of the same hospital before returning negative on Wednesday. The 1958 Commonwealth Games gold medallist was admitted to the PGIMER on June 3 after his oxygen levels dipped at home following treatment at the Fortis hospital in Mohali for a week.
The legendary athlete’s 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.
Singh, who was born in Gobindpura, now in present day Pakistan, on November 30, 1928 as per school records, had become the first Indian athlete to win gold in the then British Empire and Commonwealth Games in Cardiff in 1958, a record which stood for more than 50 years when Krishna Poonia won the gold in discus throw event in 2010 CWG at Delhi. Singh had emerged as the winner in the 400m final in Cardiff edging out Malcolm Spence of South Africa with a timing of 46.6 seconds.
Singh had also won four Asian Games gold medals, including the 200m and 400m wins in the 1956 Asian Games and 400m and 4X400m relay in 1962 Asian Games.
The nonagenarian was yet to get jabbed for Covid-19, and on testing positive on May 19, he had told this correspondent over telephone, “It’s just a matter of time, I will be back soon, and get myself vaccinated.”
But destiny had something else written for him, as he passed away exactly after a month.