The Flying Sikh mourned the passing of former skipper of the Indian hockey team.

Legendary Indian athlete Milkha Singh has paid his respects to the former captain of the Indian hockey team Balbir Singh Sr and expressed the need of the country’s youth to draw inspiration from their lives.

Balbir Singh Sr passed away in Chandigarh on Monday morning, thus sending shockwaves throughout the sports fraternity of the country, which mourned the death of a true legend in the game of hockey. 

He was the first sportsperson to be honored with the prestigious Padma Shri award after guiding India to three consecutive gold medals in the Olympics. He also became the chief coach of the Indian team which clinched a Bronze medal at the 1971 World Cup. Four years later, he was once again at the helm of the Indian men’s hockey team, winning the country’s only Gold medal in world cup hockey till date.

Milkha Singh, who worked with Balbir Singh Sr in the Punjab sports department, has lauded the former skipper of the Indian hockey team as the only legend next to Dhyan Chand in the game of hockey.

Speaking on the unfortunate demise of the Hockey legend, Milkha Singh said to PTI,“I had a very close association with him. The then Punjab Chief Minister Pratap Singh Kairon had brought us to the Sports Department, which he had joined as Deputy Director. We served in the Department for three decades both on the sports side as well as on physical education side,”

“We were great friends. He was very close to me and I feel sad that he is not amongst us now. After Dhyan Chand, if there was any (hockey) legend, it was Balbir Singh senior,” added the 90-year-old.

No one understands the pain of missing out on an Olympic medal better than Milkha Singh, who missed out on one in 1960 by a whisker. Therefore, he has invoked the youth of the country, especially the ones involved in hockey, athletics and gymnastics to take inspiration from the lives of legendary figures like Balbir Singh Sr and Dhyan Chand and earn medals at the biggest stage for India.

Milkha Singh said, “We did not have facilities but we worked hard and made our country proud. Now, there is every facility, but standard of hockey, athletics, gymnastics has gone down, though we are doing good in some games like badminton, shooting.”

“I feel coming generations should draw inspiration from our lives,” he concluded.