19 June 2021: June will remain a month of solemn reflection in the homes of Jeev Milkha Singh and his three sisters. The family is dealing with the bereavement of both parents, who have departed together within a week. Last night the grief intensified with the passing of Milkha Singh, the Flying Sikh. Nirmal Kaur, their mother passed away on 13 June.
Milkha Singh gave Indian aspirations a new pair of wings with his enduring feats of excellence as a runner. Even though Milkha won Gold in Asiad and Commonwealth Games, he was often celebrated for finishing fourth in the 1960 Rome Olympics, after leading the race.
His loss is being felt with profound grief all around the nation.
We lost our legend Milkha sir today it’s very heartbreaking to here you will be missed & remembered forever in our hearts with the legacy what you have left for us . #omshanti? pic.twitter.com/H2OUHTwmOI
— Chikkarangappa S (@chikkarangappa) June 19, 2021
Tributes poured in from all directions as news of the great man’s departure filtered through at the midnight hour on Friday.
— Gaganjeet Bhullar (@gagsbhullar) June 19, 2021
Jeev had expressed his sadness and acknowledged the warm support received by the family over the past few weeks, leading to the demise of his beloved mother. He called her the backbone of the family.
Milkha Singh was active even though he was 91. He would walk the golf course to watch his son and other golfers play the game at events. Milkha was also a constant presence at the Jeev Milkha Singh Invitational in Chandigarh.
The Milkha family lost its backbone today. Mom taught us to be humble and be good human beings above everything else.
We can never thank her enough for everything she did for us and the unconditional love she showered…every day.
Thank you all for the prayers and kind messages pic.twitter.com/NCvurRLdIP
— Jeev Milkha Singh (@JeevMilkhaSingh) June 13, 2021
Sunil Chhetri paid a tribute that will resonate with a great many Indians who were too late to witness the great man’s legendary performances.
We may not have seen you compete, but every time we ran fast as kids, we ran 'like Milkha Singh'. And for me, that will always be the legend you leave behind. You didn't just run, you inspired. Rest in peace, sir. #MilkhaSingh pic.twitter.com/SbwrqJJHx9
— Sunil Chhetri (@chetrisunil11) June 19, 2021
There were hopes of a recovery when Milkha Singh was moved out of the COVID ICU at PIGMER, when he tested negative for the virus. He was reported to be stable on Thursday, on the road to recovery. However, a spokesperson for the family informed PTI that he developed a fever and issues with oxygen saturation level, Friday evening. He departed the mortal world at 1130pm last night.
His legend though will remain etched into the history of Indian sport.