New Delhi, June 19 : President Ram Nath Kovind on Saturday said the demise of Milkha Singh fills his heart with grief and that the story of the sporting icon”s struggles and strength of character will continue to inspire generations of Indians.
The 91-year-old sprint legend died at a hospital in Chandigarh on Friday after a month-long battle with COVID-19, during which he lost his wife and former national volleyball captain Nirmal Kaur to the same ailment.
“The passing of sporting icon Milkha Singh fills my heart with grief. The story of his struggles and strength of character will continue to inspire generations of Indians. My deepest condolences to his family members, and countless admirers,” Kovind tweeted.
Five days ago, Milkha’s wife, Nirmal Kaur, a former India volleyball captain, had lost her battle with the virus at the same Mohali hospital where the legendary runner breathed his last. Milkha is survived by 14-time international winner and golfer son Jeev Milkha Singh, daughters Mona Singh, Sonia Singh and Aleeza Grover — and a legacy that is part of India’s sporting lore.
Milkha, the Flying Sikh, had tested positive for the virus on May 20 and was admitted to a private hospital in Mohali on May 24. He had been discharged on May 30 before he was admitted to the Covid ward at the Nehru Hospital Extension at PGIMER on June 3 due to dipping oxygen levels. The former Indian athlete had tested negative on Thursday earlier this week and was shifted to the medical ICU.
His condition deteriorated Friday evening as he developed complications, including fever and dipping oxygen saturation levels, after a bout with Covid-19.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a tweet expressed his condolences over Singh’s demise, describing Milkha as a “colossal sportsperson who captured the nation’s imagination”. “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,” he tweeted.