Legendary Indian sprinter Milkha Singh, 91, passed away in a local hospital here at 11.30 pm on Friday, said a statement from the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education & Research, Chandigarh, where he was being treated for Covid-related complications. The news of Milkha Singh’s passing has come a week after his wife and former Indian women volleyball team captain Nirmal Kaur died at a Mohali hospital on Sunday due to complications related to Covid-19 infection. She was 85.
Milkha Singh’s health deteriorated with fever and de-saturation on Thursday. His daughter, Mona Milkha Singh, who is also a doctor, was monitoring his health. His condition turned critical on Friday when his oxygen saturation levels dropped. The 91-year-old had contracted the virus last month. His wife, Nirmal Milkha Singh, had succumbed to the virus on June 13. He is survived by a son, ace golfer Jeev Milkha Singh, and three daughters.
“Legendary Indian Sprinter Shri Milkha Singh ji was admitted in the ICU of Covid Hospital of PGIMER on 3rd June 2021 and was treated for Covid there till 13th June when after putting up a valiant battle with Covid, Milkha Singh Ji tested negative,” said Prof Ashok Kumar, official spokesperson, PGIMER, in a media statement after Milkha Singh passed away.
“However, due to post-Covid complications, he was shifted out of Covid Hospital to medical ICU. But despite best of the efforts by the 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 11.30 p.m. on 18th June 2021, here at PGIMER,” the statement said.
Milkha Singh’s family also issued a statement after he passed away. “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. We are deeply indebted to the doctors at PGI for their valiant efforts and the love and prayers we received from across the world and from yourselves. We Thank You,” said the family.
Celebrities such as Aasif Sheikh, Surbhi Jyoti and others have mourned his shocking demise on Twitter. “Heartbreaking to heart the news of #MilkhaSingh ji’s demise. Rest in peace sir,” Aasif tweeted. “Flying Sikh is no more. You were one of your kind. Rest in peace our hero,” Surbhi tweeted. Harbhajan Singh wrote, “Very sad,heartbreaking to hear flying sikh Sardar Milkha singh ji is no more.. Folded handsFolded hands waheguru.”
Heartbreaking to heart the news of #MilkhaSingh ji’s demise. Rest in peace sir. ??
Aasif Sheikh (@iaasifsheikh) June 18, 2021
Flying Sikh is no more. You were one of your kind. Rest in peace our hero ??#MilkhaSingh pic.twitter.com/HIFQkoJkNQ
Surbhi Jyoti (@SurbhiJtweets) June 18, 2021
Very sad,heartbreaking to hear flying sikh Sardar Milkha singh ji is no more.. ?? waheguru ?? #RIPMilkhaSinghji
Harbhajan Turbanator (@harbhajan_singh) June 18, 2021
Milkha Singh was born in Layalpur, in undivided India and now in Pakistan. His love with athletics began after he enrolled himself with the EME Corps of the Indian Army. He became popular when he clocked 45.6 seconds to finish fourth at the 1960 Rome Olympic Games. Until that time, it was the closest that an Indian athlete had come to winning an individual Olympic medal.
Later, of course, P.T. Usha missed a bronze by a whisker in 400m hurdles at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games. She clocked 55.42 seconds, and missed the bronze by a mere 0.01 seconds.
Decades later, a Bollywood film was made on Milkha Singh.