Legendary Indian sprinter Milkha Singh has died after a month-long battle with COVID-19, a family spokesperson said on Saturday. This comes days after his wife, Nirmal Kaur, died from COVID-related complications in Chandigarh. 

“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,” a statement from the family read. 

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“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.”

The 91-year-old was had tested positive for the virus on May 20, and was admitted to the Fortis Hospital in Punjab’s Mohali later that week. 

Prime Minister Narendra Modi was among the first to pay tribute to the ‘Flying Sikh’, who was India’s first gold medal winner at the Commonwealth Games. 

“In the passing away of Shri Milkha Singh Ji, we 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. Anguished by his passing away,” he said in a tweet.  

Milkha Singh was one of the most decorated Indian athletes of all time. He became the country’s first-ever gold medal winner at an individual event at the Commonwealth Games, clinching gold in the 400m event at the 1958 edition in Cardiff.