Prime Sports, National and International Sport, Olympics, Hockey, New Delhi, May 25:- Three-time Olympic gold medal-winning hockey legend Balbir Singh Sr died here on Monday after battling multiple health issues for over two weeks.
The iconic player was 95 and is survived by his daughter Sushbir and three sons Kanwalbir, Karanbir, Gurbir.
“He died at around 6:30 this morning,” Abhijit Singh, Director Fortis Hospital, Mohali, where he was admitted on May 8, said.
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 a high fever.
One of the country’s greatest athletes, Balbir Sr was the only Indian among 16 legends chosen by the International Olympic Committee across modern Olympic history.
His world record for most goals scored by an individual in the men’s hockey final of the Olympics still remains unbeaten.
He had scored five goals in India’s 6-1 victory over the Netherlands in the gold medal match of the 1952 Helsinki Games. He was conferred with the Padma Shri in 1957.
That was the first time an athlete was conferred the prestigious civillian honour.
Singh’s three Olympic gold medals came in London (1948), Helsinki (1952) as vice-captain, and Melbourne (1956) as captain.
He was also the manager of India’s only World Cup-winning side in 1975.
It was the fourth time in the past two years that the former captain and coach was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU).
In January last year, Singh spent more than three months in hospital because of bronchial pneumonia.
Considered at par with Major Dhyan Chand in skills, Singh was among independent India’s biggest hockey stars.
Singh and Dhyan Chand never played together but are regarded as the jewels of Indian hockey, who inspired an entire generation of hockey players.
The Punjab government had honoured Singh with the Maharaja Ranjit Singh Award last year for his contribution to sports. (MR, Inputs: Agencies)