Milkha Singh death reactions updates: Iconic sprinter Milkha Singh was cremated with full state honours on Saturday in Chandigarh, marking the end of an era in which his pioneering accomplishments on the track galvanised a newly-independent India.
Milkha, who was 91, was bid a tearful adieu in the presence of his family members and several dignitaries, including sports minister Kiren Rijiju. ‘The Flying Sikh’, as he was fondly called, died on Friday night due to COVID-19 related complications.
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, who took to Twitter to express his condolences over Singh’s demise, described 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.
Several other politicians and sportspersons also paid glowing tributes to the 1958 Commonwealth Games champion and 1960 Rome Olympian.