Indian sprint legend Milkha Singh died on Friday after a month-long battle with Covid-19, PTI reported. He was 91.
The news comes after former national volleyball captain Nirmal Kaur, wife of Milkha Singh, had died on Sunday after contracting the virus at the age of 85. She died at a private hospital in Mohali.
“He breathed his last at 11.30 pm,” a family spokesperson told PTI.
Milkha’s condition turned critical on Friday evening as he developed complications, including fever and dipping oxygen saturation levels, after a bout with Covid-19, in the Intensive Care Unit of the PGIMER hospital in Mohali.
“It is with extreme sadness that we would like to inform you that Milkha Singh Ji passed away,” said a statement from Milkha Singh’s family according to ANI. “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.”
The Padma Shri winner had contracted Covid-19 last month and tested negative for the virus on Wednesday when he was shifted to general ICU in another block of the hospital.
Singh had been stable before Thursday evening, as per the previous bulletins.
He had been admitted to 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 is a four-time Asian Games gold medallist and the 1958 Commonwealth Games champion (440 yards race for men), but his greatest performance remains the fourth-place finish in the 400 m final of the 1960 Rome Olympics.
He also represented India in the 1956 and 1964 Olympics and was bestowed the Padma Shri in 1959.
Milkha Singh cremated with full state honours
Iconic sprinter Milkha Singh was on Saturday cremated with full state honours in Chandigarh, marking the end of an era in which his pioneering accomplishments on the track galvanised independent India.
Milkha, who was 91, was bid a tearful adieu in the presence of his family members and several dignitaries, including sports minister Kiren Rijiju. ‘’The Flying Sikh’’, as he was fondly called, died on Friday night due to Covid-19 related complications.
His son and ace golfer Jeev Milkha Singh lit the funeral pyre.
Punjab Governor and Chandigarh Administrator V P Singh Badnore, Punjab Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal, Haryana’’s Sports Minister Sandeep Singh were among the other dignitaries who attended the last rites.
Prof Jagat Ram, Director of PGIMER where Milkha was admitted, was also present.
A police contingent reversed arms and sounded the last post in the sprinter’s honour. Milkha was also given a gun salute.
The Punjab government had declared a one-day state mourning and a holiday as a mark of respect to the legend.
Chief Minister Amarinder Singh had earlier in the day said the Punjab government will accord state funeral to Milkha Singh.
Earlier, the funeral procession started from Milkha’’s Sector 8 residence.
His body was carried in a bedecked vehicle, with common people turning up along the short route to the Sector 25 cremation ground to pay their last respects to the legend.
Tributes poured in for the legendary athlete on Friday night:
With PTI inputs