Three-time Olympic champion and one of the best hockey players in history, Balbir Singh Dosanjh died on Monday morning after a long illness. He was known as Balbir Singh Sr to everyone, the 95-year-old man was hospitalized on May 8 after complaining of a high fever and respiratory problems. He suffered three cardiac arrests, but has been stable since May 13. However, his condition worsened after a fresh blood clot was detected in his brain and pneumonia plaques in his lungs on May 18. Since then, he has been semi comatose and supported by fans. Balbir Singh had been ill for several years and required repeated hospitalizations.
A key member of the Indian team at the 1948-1956 Olympics, Balbir Singh was also a captain and one of the best central attackers of all time. He was also the manager of the only Indian team to win the World Cup in 1975, the first athlete to receive the Padma Shri (1957), and the only Indian and hockey player to be included in the CIO’s “Olympic icons”, i.e a small group of 16 great Olympic athletes of all time honored at the London Olympics. The state funeral for Balbir Singh Sr will take place in his hometown of Chandigarh at 5:30 p.m. Monday at the Sector 25 electrical crematorium. Hockey INDIA and the Indian Olympic Association have also expressed their grief.
“I will cherish the simplicity, humility and pride that he brought to bear in his own charming way. His ready wit and willingness to share his vast knowledge were stand out features. Indeed, Balbir Singh ji leaves behind a rich legacy that cuts across all sport and physical boundaries,”IOA president Narinder Batra said.
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