New Delhi: One of greatest hockey players of all time, the legendary Balbir Singh Sr passed away on Monday. He was 95.
“He died at around 6:30 this morning,” Abhijit Singh, Director Fortis Hospital, Mohali, where he was admitted on May 8.
The triple-Olympic champion was hospitalised in Mohali on May 8 and has been on ventilator support. Balbir Sr 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 high fever.
The iconic player is survived by his daughter Sushbir and three sons Kanwalbir, Karanbir, Gurbir.
Singh was part of the golden generation of Indian hockey when the team won gold at the 1948, 1952 and 1956 Olympics. A gifted centre-forward, Singh played an instrumental role in India’s golden triumphs.
His best individual performance came in the final of the 1952 Olympics played between India and Netherlands. Singh scored as many as five goals in India’s 6-1 hammering of Netherlands in the gold medal match of 1952 mega event which was staged in Helsinki. He still holds the record for most goals by an individual in a Hockey Olympics final. The three-time Olympic champions was the first sportsperson to be honoured with Padma Shri in 1957.
For his monumental contributions to the game, Balbir Sr. was awarded the Padma Shri, India’s fourth-highest civilian honour, in 1957 and was conferred with the Major Dhyan Chand Life Time Achievement Award by Hockey India in 2015. In 2012, Balbir Sr became the only Asian male and only Indian among 16 athletes to be chosen as “Iconic Olympians” by the International Olympic Committee across the modern Olympics’ history.