Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Monday expressed his deep sorrow on the death of Balbir Singh Sr, saying the hockey legend exemplified qualities of perseverance, dedication and sportsmanship and will remain an inspiration for a generation of players.
One of India's greatest hockey players, who won three Olympic gold medals in a stellar career, Singh died at a hospital in Mohali on Monday after battling multiple health issues for over two weeks.
"Saddened to learn about the passing away of Hockey legend Balbir Singh Sr. A Triple Olympic Gold medallist," Amarinder Singh tweeted.
"He exemplified qualities of perseverance, dedication & sportsmanship. Sir, you will be dearly missed & will forever remain an inspiration! A grateful State bids you farewell," Singh said.
Punjab Governor and Chandigarh Union Territory Administrator, V P Singh Badnore also expressed his grief over Singh's death, saying it was a personal loss to him.
"Heartfelt condolences on the passing away of Triple#Olympics#Gold Medalist coach of #World Cup winning teams# PadamShree@Balbir Senior," Badnore tweeted.
"His passing away is a personal loss as I shared a personal bonding with him. Fine human being legend in his own life forever remembered in Chd&Pb."
The legendary centre-forward was 96 and is survived by his daughter Sushbir and three sons Kanwalbir, Karanbir, and Gurbir. His sons are settled in Canada and he used to live here with his daughter and grandson Kabir.
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 a high fever. He was tested for COVID-19 but reports came out negative.
Singh suffered three cardiac arrests during the course of his treatment.
One of the country's most accomplished athletes, Singh was the only Indian among 16 legends chosen by the International Olympic Committee 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 of the 1952 Helsinki Games. He was conferred with the Padma Shri in 1957.