The International Hockey Federation (FIH) paid glowing tributes to legendary Balbir Singh Sr, who passed away on Monday, describing the three-time Olympic gold winner as an outstanding player who dedicated his life to the sport. Singh died at a hospital in Mohali on Monday morning after battling multiple health issues for over two weeks. He was 96.
In a condolence letter addressed to Hockey India chief Md Mushtaque Ahmed, FIH president Narinder Batra and CEO Thierry Weil said the global hockey fraternity was with Singh's family at this hour of grief. "It is with great sadness that we have learnt of the passing away of hockey legend and three-time Olympic Games gold winners Padma Shri Balbir Singh. Our thoughts are very much with his family at the very difficult time," the FIH letter read. "Padma Shri Balbir Singh will be remembered not only as a highly talented and outstanding international player who represented India in three Olympic Games from 1948 to 1956, but also as a man greatly dedicated to our sport, sharing his experience and knowledge through his coaching with the Indian team." 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.
The Asian Hockey Federation (AHF) on Monday condoled the sad demise of legendary Balbir Singh Sr, saying the three-time Olympic gold medallist will always be remembered for his devotion and contribution to the sport.
"With deep sadness, we received the news of demise of the beloved Padma Shiri Balbir Singh Dosanjh. Certainly Balbir Singh will long be remembered for his devotedness and contributions for the field hockey in India and at global hockey arena," AHF chief executive Tayyab Ikram said in a statement.m "Balbir Singh left behind a legacy which will always be cherished and serve as a beacon for many budding talents. The Asian Hockey family also joins me to extend our deepest condolences on this bereavement. We are sorry to have lost such a great player and hockey leader," he added. The AHF termed Singh's demise as "a sad moment not only for Hockey India, Asian Hockey Community but also for the global hockey and sport fraternity."
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. That was the first time an athlete was conferred the prestigious civilian honour. Singh's three Olympic gold medals came in London (1948), Helsinki (1952) as vice-captain, and Melbourne (1956) as captain. He was also the coach of the bronze medal World Cup-wining side in 1971 besides being the manager of India's only World Cup-winning side in 1975.
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