Hockey legend Balbir Singh Sr cremated with full state honours

3-time Olympic gold medal-winner died at a Mohali hospital on Monday morning

Deepankar Sharda

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 25

Hockey legend Balbir Singh Sr was cremated with full state honours at the Sector 25 electric crematorium here on Monday.

The three-time gold medallist at the Olympics died this morning at a Mohali hospital. He was 96.

One of the greatest hockey players of all time, Balbir Singh Sr had been battling several age-related health problems for over a couple of weeks. He breathed his last at 6.17 am.

Sports Minister Rana Gurmeet Singh Sodhi and senior officials of Punjab Government and Chandigarh administration attended the funeral of the iconic athlete and laid wreaths on his mortal remains.

Sodhi said Singh's demise was a big blow for the nation as a whole. He also said the hockey stadium in Mohali would be named after the champion player.

Former Indian hockey team captain Pargat Singh was also present at the funeral.

Balbir Singh Sr was under observation at a private hospital in Mohali after suffering a cardiac arrest earlier this month. He was admitted to the hospital in a very serious state with multiple organ failure due to bronchial pneumonia. While in hospital, he had suffered back-to-back mild cardiac arrests.

He was on ventilator support since May 12 and had tested negative for Covid-19.

The veteran Olympian had tweeted a message on April 5 praying for safety of all amidst Covid-19 outbreak

Last year also he spent 108 days in a Respiratory Intensive Care Unit (RICU) due to bronchial pneumonia at PGIMER.

He lived with his daughter Sushbir Bhomia and grandson Kabir Singh Bhomia at his Sector 36 residence in Chandigarh.

One of the country's greatest athletes, Balbir Singh Sr was the only Indian among 16 legends chosen by the International Olympic Committee across the modern Olympics history. His world record for most goals scored by an individual in the men's hockey final of the Olympics remains unbeaten. The hockey great 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 and was the manager of India's World Cup-winning team in 1975.

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