Known as the “Flying Sikh”, Singh was one of India’s most successful track and field athletes. He won four gold medals at the Asian Games and became India’s first Commonwealth Games champion in 1958. The following year, Singh received the Padma Shri, one of India’s highest civilian honors.
Singh contracted Covid-19 last month and was being treated at a hospital in the city of Chandigarh, in northern India. He died Friday night after developing complications, including fever and low oxygen saturation levels, according to News 18.
“He fought hard but God can afford it and maybe it was real love and fellowship that our mom Nirmal ji and now dad passed away within 5 days,” the statement said. of the family.
Singh’s wife Nirmal Kaur, a former national volleyball captain, also died from the virus last Sunday.
“We have lost a colossal sportsman, who captured the imagination of the nation and who had a special place in the hearts of countless Indians. His inspiring personality has won over millions of people, ”he wrote on Twitter.
Singh represented India at the 1956, 1960 and 1964 Olympics. At the 1960 Olympics in Rome, Singh lost the 400-meter race in a photo finish. He finished fourth with a time of 45.73 seconds, an Indian national record that spanned 40 years.
But the regret of not having won an Olympic medal has always haunted him.
“This race in which I made a mistake, I will never be able to forget it or let go for the rest of my life. I have run 80 international races in my life and won 77, but the Olympic Games in Rome was a race that I will never forget until I die, ”he told CNN in 2011.
Born in 1929 in Govindpura, a small village in present-day Pakistan, Singh grew up in what was then India under British rule. As a teenager, he lost his parents in 1947 in a tumultuous partition that created the two neighboring sovereign countries.
“The kind of difficulties that I saw during the score, you will never understand it,” he told CNN before. “My parents were killed in front of my eyes. They were murdered right there. “
He fled to India by train, hiding under the seats of the ladies’ car. In New Delhi he joined the Indian Army, where he began his running career.
His life story inspired a 2013 Bollywood film titled “Bhaag Milkha Bhaag”, which means “Run Milkha Run” in English.