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After wife, ‘Flying Sikh’ Milkha Singh too loses battle to COVID-19

A file photo of Nirmal Milkha Singh with her husband Milkha Singh. Photo: @JeevMilkhaSingh/Twitter

Chandigarh, June 18 (MNN) Legendary Indian athlete and Padma Shri awardee Milkha Singh lost the battle to coronavirus here late on Friday night. He was 91.

The Flying Sikh was admitted in the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Sciences and Research here for treatment at the start of June after he had tested positive for coronavirus in May. The end came around 11.25 pm.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and many other prominent personalities paid rich tributes to the Indian athletics’ icon.

On June 13, Milkha Singh’s wife Nirmal too had passed away at a private hospital in SAS Nagar adjoining Chandigarh after battling COVID-19.

The couple are now survived by a son and three daughters. Their son Jeev Milkha Singh is an international golfer.

When his mother died, Jeev Milkha Singh had posted on his Twitter handle: “The Milkha family lost its backbone today. Mom taught us to be humble and be good human beings above everything else.

“We can never thank her enough for everything she did for us and the unconditional love she showered…every day. Thank you all for the prayers and kind messages.”

He also posted an old photograph of his late mother with her husband.

Earlier in May, Indian track legend Milkha Singh was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit of Fortis Hospital in SAS Nagar adjoining Chandigarh.

In the recent past, reports quoting his doctors had said that the veteran athlete was “stable”.

Though Milkha and his wife had tested positive, their other family members had tested negative.

The legendary athlete was a five-time Asian Games gold medallist but his greatest performance was the fourth-place finish in the 400m final of the 1960 Olympics.

He also won gold medals in the 1958 and 1962 Asian Games. He represented India in the 1956 Summer Olympics in Melbourne, the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome, and the 1964 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.

He was awarded the Padma Shri, India’s fourth-highest civilian honour, in recognition of his sporting achievements.

He still is the only Indian sprinter to win gold in the 400m at the Asian Games and the Commonwealth Games.

Narendra Modi 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.”

“I had spoken to Shri Milkha Singh Ji just a few days ago. Little did I know that it would be our last conversation. Several budding athletes will derive strength from his life journey. My condolences to his family and many admirers all over the world, the Prime Minister added.

Indian Home Minister Amit Shah tweeted his condolence at the passing away of the veteran athlete. “India mourns the sad demise of legendary sprinter Shri Milkha Singh Ji, The Flying Sikh. He has left an indelible mark on world athletics. Nation will always remember him as one of the brightest stars of Indian sports. My deepest condolences to his family and countless followers.”

West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar tweeted: “Sad news —  Legendary Indian sprinter Milkha Singh dies after month-long battle with COVID-19. He will ever be missed. His life will motivate and inspire us all to ALWAYS KEEP NATION FIRST.”

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