Legendary Indian athlete Milkha Singh, popularly known as 'Flying Sikh, passed away in a local hospital in Chandigarh at 11.30 p.m. on Friday (June 18), said a statement from the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education & Research (PGIMER), Chandigarh, where he was being treated for Covid-related complications.
He 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.
Six days ago, on June 13, Milkha's wife Nirmal had passed away. A former India volleyball captain, she was 85, and she too was affected by Covid and related complications.
"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 the best 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.
Meanwhile, the sports fraternity mourned Milkha Singh’s death and took to Twitter to pay tribute to the legendary athlete.
SAI learns with immense sadness of the demise of one of India’s greatest ever sportspersons “The Flying Sikh” Milkha Singh. A gold medalist at the CWG & Asian Games, he held the 400m National record for 38 years. Condolences to his family & the millions whom he inspired. pic.twitter.com/rZlSM9sMaD
— SAIMedia (@Media_SAI) 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
Had the honour of meeting you and you blessed me so many times .. the kindest and warmest RIP Milkha Singh sir .. the world will miss a legend like you .. #MilkhaSingh
— Sania Mirza (@MirzaSania) June 18, 2021
मैं आपसे वादा करता हूँ मिल्खा सिंह जी कि हम आपकी अंतिम इच्छा को पूरा करेंगे।
India has lost it's star. Milkha Singh Ji has left us but he will continue to inspire every Indian to shine for India. My deepest condolences to the family. I pray for his soul to rest in peace pic.twitter.com/mQVRvfozkB
— Kiren Rijiju (@KirenRijiju) June 18, 2021
Heartbreaking to hear that flying Sikh legend Milkha Singh sir is no more. The nation will always remember you sir and seek an inspiration from your life forever. RIP #MilkhaSingh sir pic.twitter.com/wnASq5QUUf
— Hima (mon jai) (@HimaDas8) June 18, 2021
A huge loss for the sport of athletics today. Rest well #MilkhaSingh ji.
— Anju Bobby George (@anjubobbygeorg1) June 18, 2021
A Titan who lifted the profile of athletics in a young nation, his sharp observations on Indian sport will be missed. His towering legacy will continue to inspire generations of young Indians. Rest in peace legend - @Adille1 President AFI pic.twitter.com/jtLKaGM2Bc
— Athletics Federation of India (@afiindia) June 18, 2021
Milkha 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 medal 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.