Marking one of the darkest days in Indian sports, 1958 Commonwealth Games gold medalist and independent India’s first sporting icon Milkha Singh took his last breath at PGIMER, Chandigarh on June 18,2021 at 11:30 p.m. Aged 91, Singh contracted the COVID-19 virus a month ago and was admitted to a private hospital in Mohali on May 24.
But after a month long battle with COVID, Singh took his last breath just 5 days after his wife Nirmal Saini passed away. He was admitted to the Covid ward in the Nehru Hospital Extension at PGIMER on June 3 due to dipping oxygen levels. His health was taking turns since the last two weeks and after a brave month long fight, Singh took his last breath.
“Dad just passed away,” Singh’s son Jeev Milkha Singh said.
Independent India’s first Sporting Icon- Milkha Singh
Milkha Singh had a very tough childhood. He was born in Gobindpura (present day Pakistan) and lost majority of his family, including his parents during the partition. But young Milkha was destined for greatness. He had the passion to serve the nation and had the legs to support him, hence, he decided to step into Athletics.
He stunned the world by winning the gold medal at 1958 Asian Games and since then, never looked back. He broke out to the world in the 1958 Commonwealth Games where he won gold in the 400m event, clocking 46.6 secs and setting a new world record.
He missed a rare Olympic medal by the slightest of margins in 1960 but held his head up moved ahead. He then went on to compete in a race against Pakistan’s Abdul Khaliq the very same year and earned the title of ‘The Flying Sikh’ by then General Ayub Khan as he completed the race shockingly in just 45.8 seconds. The great man then hung his boots in 1964.
Also read: Milkha Singh readmitted to hospital due to post COVID-19 complications