Legendary hockey player Balbir Singh Sr dies at 96

Balbir Singh Sr, one of India’s greatest hockey players, died on May 25, 2020, after battling multiple health issues for over two weeks.

The legend is survived by his daughter Sushbir and three sons Kanwalbir, Karanbir, and Gurbir. “He died at around 6:30 this morning,” news agency PTI quoted Abhijit Singh, Director Fortis Hospital, Mohali, where he was admitted since May 8, as saying.

His grandson Kabir later sent out a message stating, “Nanaji passed away this morning.”

The three-time Olympic gold medallist 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.

He was hospitalised after experiencing high fever and suffered three cardiac arrests during the course of his treatment.

One of the country’s most accomplished athletes, the iconic centre-forward was the only Indian among 16 legends chosen by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) 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 at the 1952 Helsinki Games.

He was conferred with the Padma Shri in 1957. Balbir Sr’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.

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