New Delhi [India], May 25 (ANI): Union Minister for Youth Affairs and Sports Kiren Rijiju on Monday condoled the demise of hockey legend Balbir Singh Sr who passed away this morning at the age of 95 after battling multiple health issues in Mohali.
Rijiju paid his heartfelt tribute and prayed for the eternal peace of the deceased.
"Deeply saddened by the tragic demise of India's legendary Hockey Player -- Balbir Singh Sr. He was part of India's gold medal winning team at 1948 London, 1952 Helsinki1956 Melbourne Olympics. I pay my heartfelt tribute and pray for the eternal peace of the departed soul," Rijiju tweeted.
The veteran hockey player had suffered a cardiac arrest on May 12 and after that, he suffered two more cardiac arrests during the course of his admission in the hospital.
"Balbir Singh passed away this morning," his grandson Kabir said in a statement on Monday.
Balbir Singh Sr was a three-time Olympic gold champion. He played a key role in India's Olympic victories in London (1948), as a vice-captain in Helsinki (1952) and as the captain in Melbourne (1956).
In his illustrious playing career from 1947-1958, Balbir Sr won 61 international caps and scored a whopping 246 goals. He was also the manager of the 1975 World Cup-winning team.
As vice-captain of the team in 1952, he scored a hat-trick against Britain in the semifinals and five of India's goals in its 6-1 win against Holland in the final. It is the record for the most goals in an Olympic Games hockey final.
For Balbir's stellar contribution to the game, he was awarded the Padma Shri, India's fourth-highest civilian honour in 1957 and was conferred with the Major Dhyan Chand Life Time Achievement Award by Hockey India in 2014.
He also became the only Asian male and only Indian among 16 athletes to be chosen as "Iconic Olympians" by the International Olympic Committee across the modern Olympics' history. (ANI)