Three-time Olympic gold medallist in hockey, Balbir Singh Sr., 96, passed away this Monday. He had battled with multiple health complications in the past fortnight.
Balbir Singh Sr. is considered to be one of the finest forwards to have ever graced the game and his prolific returns and inspirational leadership helped the Indian hockey team win their hat-trick of Olympic golds in 1948, 1952 and 1956.
He scored in both the 1948 and 1952 Olympics finals, and his five goals against the Netherlands in the latter still stands as the record for most goals scored in a men’s Olympic final.
In the 1956 Olympics final against Pakistan, the Indian hockey legend played through a fracture in his favoured right hand to guide them to a 1-0 victory and ensure a sixth consecutive gold medal.
Balbir Singh Sr. later went on to become the coach of the Indian hockey team and inspired them to a bronze medal at the inaugural 1971 World Cup before being at the helm for the country’s only World Cup victory in 1975.