Legendary Indian athlete, Milkha Singh has died at the age of 91 after a month-long battle with Covid-19, just days after his wife died.
Singh contracted Covid-19 last month and was being treated at a hospital in India’s northern city of Chandigarh. He died late Friday June 18, after developing complications including fever and dropping oxygen saturation levels, according to News 18.
“He fought hard but God has his ways and it was perhaps true love and companionship that both our mother Nirmal ji and now Dad have passed away in a matter of 5 days,” the family statement said.
Singh’s wife, Nirmal Kaur, a former national volleyball captain, also died of the virus last Sunday.
Known as the “Flying Sikh,” Singh 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.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi posted on Twitter saying he was “anguished” by the news.
“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”
Indian President Ram Nath Kovind said the death of Singh filled his heart with grief.
“The story of his struggles and strength of character will continue to inspire generations of Indians,” he tweeted.
Singh represented India in the 1956, 1960 and 1964 Olympics. At the 1960 Olympics in Rome, Singh famously lost the 400 meters race in a photo finish. He came fourth with a time of 45.73 seconds — an Indian national record which stood for 40 years.