Legendary sprinter Milkha Singh dies
Published: 01:09 PM, 19 June 2021
India's legendary sprinter Milkha Singh has passed away on Friday night after a month-long battle with Covid-19. He was 91.
Local media reported that Milkha Singh tested positive for Covid-19 last month and was being treated at a hospital in India's northern city of Chandigarh. He breathed his last late Friday after developing complications including fever and dropping oxygen saturation levels.
Earlier, his wife Nirmal Kaur, a former national volleyball captain, also died of the virus last Sunday.
Milkha Singh, known as the "Flying Sikh," was one of India's most successful track and field athletes. He won four Asian Games gold medals and became India's first Commonwealth Games champion in 1958. The following year, Singh was honored with the Padma Shri, one of India's highest civilian honors.
Tributes to Singh flooded social media on Saturday, with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi saying he was "anguished" by the news.
"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," he wrote on Twitter.
Born in 1929 in Govindpura, a small village in what is now Pakistan, Singh grew up in what was then British-ruled India. As a teenager, he lost his parents in 1947 to a tumultuous partition that created the two neighboring sovereign countries. He fled to India by train, hiding under the seats in the ladies' carriage. In New Delhi, he joined the Indian Army, where he started his running career.
His life story inspired a 2013 Bollywood film called "Bhaag Milkha Bhaag," which means "Run Milkha Run" in English.