Prime Minister Narendra Modi has condoled the demise of hockey legend Balbir Singh Sr, one of India’s greatest sporting icons, who breathed his last on Monday morning. The Indian hockey giant was 95.
Balbir Singh Sr died at a hospital in Mohali after battling multiple health issues for over two weeks. He was admitted to hospital on May 8 and was in a critical condition after suffering multiple cardiac arrests.
The three-time Olympic gold medallist was in a semi-comatose state since May 18 and had developed a blood clot in his brain after being first admitted to the hospital for bronchial pneumonia with high fever.
PM Modi expressed grief on the death of Balbir Singh Sr, saying, “he will be remembered for his memorable sporting performances.”
Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju and Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh also expressed deep sorrow on the passing away of the legend.
Padma Shri Balbir Singh Sr. Ji will be remembered for his memorable sporting performances. He brought home lots of pride and laurels. Undoubtedly a brilliant hockey player, he also made a mark as a great mentor. Pained by his demise. Condolences to his family and well wishers.
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) May 25, 2020
Deeply saddened by the tragic demise of India’s legendary Hockey Player — Balbir Singh Sr. He was part of India’s gold medal winning team at 1948 London, 1952 Helsinki & 1956 Melbourne Olympics. I pay my heartfelt tribute and pray for the eternal peace of the departed soul pic.twitter.com/hknd1G5DFz
— Kiren Rijiju (@KirenRijiju) May 25, 2020
Saddened to learn about passing away of Hockey legend Balbir Singh Sr. A Triple Olympic Gold medallist, he exemplified qualities of perseverance, dedication & sportsmanship. Sir, you will be dearly missed & will forever remain an inspiration! A grateful State bids you farewell. pic.twitter.com/bwQwJyYbdo
— Capt.Amarinder Singh (@capt_amarinder) May 25, 2020
Tributes have been pouring in for the hockey legend since morning as India woke to the sad news of his demise. India skipper Virat Kohli, Indian cricket team head coach Ravi Shastri, Abhinav Bindra and a series of other sportspersons have paid their tributes to Balbir Singh Sr.
The legendary centre-forward was 96 and is survived by his daughter Sushbir and three sons Kanwalbir, Karanbir, and Gurbir. His sons are settled in Canada and he used to live here with his daughter and grandson Kabir.
Balbir Singh Sr. played a key role in all three gold-medal winning performances in the Summer Games. His record for the most number of goals scored in an Olympic men’s hockey final stands to this day when he hammered 5 goals in India’s 6-1 victory over the Netherlands in the Gold medal match of the 1952 Helsinki Games.
Under his Captaincy, India scored 38 goals and conceded none on its way to the Gold medal in 1956 Melbourne Olympics.
One of the country’s most accomplished athletes, Singh was the only Indian among 16 legends chosen by the International Olympic Committee across modern Olympic history.