Milkha Singh, the legendary track star known as the “Flying Sikh,” is dead, sending India into mourning.
What is his cause of death? How did the Flying Sikh die? According to the Tribune India, the legend died of complications from COVID-19 at the age of 91.
His son, Jeev Milkha Singh said to Tribune India, “It is with extreme sadness that we would like to inform you that Milkha Singh Ji passed away at 11.30 pm. on the 18th of June 2021. He fought hard but God has his ways and it was perhaps true love and companionship that both our mother Nirmal ji and now Dad have passed away in a matter of 5 days. We are deeply indebted to the doctors at PGI for their valiant efforts and the love and prayers we received from across the world and from yourselves.”
Here’s what you need to know:
The Flying Sikh Was Recovering From COVID When He Took a Turn for the Worse
According to the Tribune, the famed sprinter “was admitted to the PGI on June 3 for Covid treatment.”
By June 13, he tested negative so he was moved to a medical ICU unit and out of the COVID hospital, according to the newspaper. But that’s when things took a turn for the worse; by Friday, June 18, 2021, his condition was critical as his fever rose and oxygen levels dropped, The Tribune reported.
He tested positive for COVID-19 on May 20 and was initially treated at home before developing pneumonia, the site reported.
Yahoo Sports reported that the Flying Sikh’s wife Nirmal Kaur died of the virus in the same week.
He Was One of India’s Most Successful Track-and-Field Athletes
Yahoo Sports described Singh as “one of India’s most successful track athletes.” According to Britannica, he “became the first Indian male to reach the final of an Olympic athletics event when he placed fourth in the 400-metre race at the 1960 Olympic Games in Rome.”
His life story was inspiring. According to Britannica, he was “orphaned during the partition of India,” and moved to India from Pakistan in the 1940s, initially working in a roadside restaurant before joining India’s army.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi wrote a tribute, saying, “(W)e have lost a colossal sportsperson, who captured the nation’s imagination and had a special place in the hearts of countless Indians. His inspiring personality endeared himself to millions.”
Amit Shah, Union Home Minister in India, tweeted, “India mourns the sad demise of legendary sprinter Shri Milkha Singh Ji, The Flying Sikh. He has left an indelible mark on world athletics. Nation will always remember him as one of the brightest stars of Indian sports. My deepest condolences to his family and countless followers.”
Shah Rukh Khan tweeted, “The Flying Sikh may no longer be with us in person but his presence will always be felt and his legacy will remain unmatched… An inspiration to me… an inspiration to millions. Rest in Peace Milkha Singh sir.”
“A hero, an inspiration, a legend. His legacy will live on for generations to come. Rest in Peace, Milkha Singh sir,” tweeted cricketer Jasprit Bumrah.
According to Yahoo Sports, he was a gold medal winner from the 1958 and 1962 Asian Games. In the 1960 Olympics in Rome, he finished fourth in the 400m. He held the Indian national record for nearly four decades. He was a national legend.