Milkha Singh, India’s legendary sprinter, has passed away after a month-long battle with the infection owing to post-COVID-19 complications. Before being admitted to the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER) hospital in Chandigarh, he was kept in isolation at his residence.
On June 3, he was hospitalized after his oxygen levels dropped at home after a week of treatment at the Fortis hospital in Mohali. After a bout with COVID-19, he suffered problems in the PGIMER hospital’s Intensive Care Unit, including fever and dropping oxygen saturation levels, and his situation became severe on Friday evening.
He was diagnosed with COVID-19 last month and tested negative for the virus on Wednesday when he was transferred to a general ICU in a different hospital block. Before Thursday evening, he had been deemed stable. His wife, Nirmal Kaur, a former volleyball captain, died earlier this week at the age of 85.
Milkha Singh, also known as ‘the Flying Sikh’, won four Asian gold medals and finished fourth in the 1960 Rome Olympics 400m final. His story was adapted into the Bollywood film called Bhaag Milkha Bhaag. It was released in 2013.
The tributes to the athlete, who has been dubbed as independent India’s first athletic superstar, were headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He tweeted, “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”.
He was a four-time Asian Games gold medalist and a Commonwealth Games champion in 1958. He was still the first Indian athlete to win gold at both the Asian and Commonwealth Games. In acknowledgment of his sporting exploits, he received the Padma Shri, India’s fourth highest civilian accolade.