Hockey legend Balbir Singh Senior passes away at 95
Hockey stalwart Balbir Singh Dosanjh passed away on Monday after facing several health issues for over two weeks. The 95-year-old is survived by his daughter Sushbir and three sons Kanwalbir, Karanbir, Gurbir. Balbir was in a semi-comatose state since May 18. He had developed a blood clot in his brain after being admitted to the hospital for bronchial pneumonia and high fever.
An exceptional forward, Balbir Singh Sr scored 246 goals from 61 appearances for India in his 11-year-old career. He was a crucial part of the Indian contingent that clinched gold medals in 1948, 1952 and 1956 Games. Notably, the victory of 1948 London Olympics remains a standout moment of his career, wherein an independent Team India trounced England 4-0 in the final.
Balbir Singh Sr still holds the record for most goals scored by an individual in the Men's hockey final of the Olympics. He had netted five goals with India winning 6-1 against the Netherlands in the final of 1952 Helsinki Games.
Balbir was awarded India's fourth-highest civilian honour, the Padma Shri, in 1957 for his contributions in the sport. He was also conferred with the 'Major Dhyan Chand Life Time Achievement Award' by Hockey India in 2015. In 2012, he became the only Indian among 16 athletes, who were chosen as "Iconic Olympians" by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
"There was no greater joy for me than seeing the tri-color going up. The National Anthem and the fact that we beat our rulers (British) on their home soil to win and retain the Olympic hockey gold can never be forgotten," Balbir had told Sportstar.