New Delhi, May 25 (IANS) Cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar led the list of sports personalities who thronged social media to pay their last respects to hockey legend Balbir Singh Senior, who passed away aged 96 at a private hospital in Chandigarh on Monday.
Balbir was undergoing treatment at Fortis Mohali and was in a ‘semi-comatose condition’. He was hospitalised on May 8 with high fever and breathing trouble. But, his COVID-19 test had come negative.
“My heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of Balbir Singh ji Sr. He was one of the greatest to have graced the game of hockey. May his soul Rest in Peace!,” Tendulkar said in a tweet on his handle.
India cricket captain Virat Kohli expressed his grief on the passing of the legend and wrote on his Twitter handle: “Saddened to hear about the passing of the legend, Balbir Singh Senior. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family in this time of sorrow.”
“The hockey family has lost one of its most iconic, beloved and celebrated individuals, triple Olympic gold medallist Balbir Singh Sr, who passed away in Chandigarh, India after a prolonged illness,” International Hockey Federation said in a tweet on their official handle.
Olympic gold medalist Abhinav Bindra referred to Balbir as a role model and tweeted: “Saddened to hear of the demise of one of India’s most celebrated Olympians, Balbir Singh Sr. Athletes and role models like him come very rarely, and it was an honour to know him, and I hope his example will continue to inspire athletes from around the world.”
“Balbir Singh Ji, You will be missed. Great legend of the game but moreover an amazing person,” tweeted former hockey captain Sardar Singh.
“The golden era of grit and glory comes to an end. Your legendary career has not just nurtured @TheHockeyIndia but made it #IndiaKaGame inspiring generations players and fans. RIP #BalbirSingh Senior,” tweeted Pranav Adani, director, Adani Group.
India hockey goalkeeper P.R. Sreejesh also took to social media to condole the demise of the legend and said: “I was shocked to hear the news of legendary Olympian Balbir Singh Sr untimely demise. My heartfelt condolences to his family. I pray that the almighty gives his family strength to withstand this tragic moment. May his soul rest in peace.”
Legendary runner P.T. Usha wrote on her Twitter handle: “Deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Balbir Singh Sr ji. An athlete par excellence and a role model beyond words. His bestowed hands may strengthen my passions more. My condolences to his family, friends and fans.”
Indian cricket team head coach Ravi Shastri also paid his last respects and wrote on his Twitter handle: “Balbir Singh ji – A true giant and a half in his field. Hockey legend out and out. Condolences.”
Legendary footballer Tulsidar Balaram told the-aiff.com: “In my entire sporting career, I have hardly seen another sportsperson as disciplined, dedicated, and honest as him. His athletic build complemented his agility. His turn, precision and ability to generate pace from nowhere was above all.”
Balbir Senior was the most decorated athlete in Indian sports history with Olympic medals in 1948, 1952 and 1956 Summer Games. He coached the Indian team which won the bronze medal at the 1971 World Cup and was manager of the Indian team that won the gold medal at the 1975 World Cup.