Hockey Legend Balbir Singh Dies at 96


Padma Shri hockey icon Balbir Singh Sr died on Monday morning at a hospital after battling multiple health issues for over two weeks. He was 96 at the time of his death.

Singh was survived by his daughter and three sons. The hockey legend died at around 6.30 am at Fortis Hospital, Mohali where he was admitted since May 8. The news of his demise was later informed by his maternal grandson in a tweet.

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 a high fever.

He was hospitalized after experiencing high fever and suffered three cardiac arrests during the course of his treatment.

One of the country’s most accomplished athletes, the iconic center-forward was the only Indian among 16 legends chosen by the International Olympic Committee across modern Olympic history.

His world record for most goals scored by an individual in the men’s hockey final of the Olympics still remains unbeaten.

Balbir Sr’s three Olympic gold medals came in London (1948), Helsinki (1952) as vice-captain, and Melbourne (1956) as captain.

He was also the manager of India’s only World Cup-winning side in 1975.

It was the fourth time in the past two years that the former captain and coach was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU).

In January last year, Balbir Sr spent more than three months in hospital because of bronchial pneumonia.

His demise has been condoled by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. “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,” PM Modi tweeted.

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