Actor Akshay Kumar expressed his grief through a Twitter post on the demise of legendary hockey player Balbir Singh Senior, and remembered his "amazing personality". With his social media post, Akshay also shared a picture where he is seen sharing a moment with the late sportsman.
"Saddened to hear about the demise of hockey legend #BalbirSingh ji. Have had the good fortune of meeting him in the past, such an amazing personality! My heartfelt condolences to his family," Akshay wrote.
Saddened to hear about the demise of hockey legend #BalbirSingh ji. Have had the good fortune of meeting him in the past, such an amazing personality! My heartfelt condolences to his family pic.twitter.com/knjOq7VEav
— Akshay Kumar (@akshaykumar) May 25, 2020
A three-time Olympic gold medallist, Balbir Singh Senior died this morning at a private hospital in Mohali. The 96-year-old was undergoing treatment at Fortis Hospital Mohali and was in a "semi-comatose condition". He was hospitalised on May 8 with high fever and breathing trouble. His COVID-19 test had come negative."Nanaji passed away this morning," his grandson Kabir said in a statement.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and actor Angad Bedi also shared condolence messages for Balbir Singh's demise. Athlete PT Usha also shared her grief and so did sand artist Sudarsan Pattanaik. Farhan Akhtar, Ritesh Sidhwani and Sunny Kaushal also expressed his heartfelt grief at the demise of the iconic hockey player. Interestingly, Sunny essayed the role of Balbir in the film Gold that had Akshay in the lead. The film was based on India's first Olympic gold triumph at the 1948 Summer Olympics. Gold was directed by Reema Kagti and produced by Farhan Akhtar and Ritesh Sidhwani under their production banner Excel Entertainment.
Padma Shri Balbir Singh Sr. Ji will be remembered for his memorable sporting performances. He brought home lots of pride and laurels. Undoubtedly a brilliant hockey player, he also made a mark as a great mentor. Pained by his demise. Condolences to his family and well wishers.
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) May 25, 2020
RIP Balbir Singh ji. Your contribution to Indian hockey and Olympic glory will always be remembered. Deepest condolences to the family. #legend
— Farhan Akhtar (@FarOutAkhtar) May 25, 2020
— ANGAD BEDI (@Imangadbedi) May 25, 2020
We mourn the sad demise of Shri Balbir Singh Ji - three time Olympic gold-winner and the first sportsperson in India to win the Padma Shri. His record for most number of goals in an Olympic Men’s Hockey final still stands tall. Condolences to his friends & family.
— Ritesh Sidhwani (@ritesh_sid) May 25, 2020
RIP Balbir Singh sr. He was a hero! A formidable athlete. Never met him but whenever I read about him or watched him speak, I could feel his aura and kindness. Thank you for everything! Condolences to the entire family. He will always and forever be in my prayers #BalbirSingh
— Sunny Kaushal (@sunnykaushal89) May 25, 2020
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!#balbirsingh #Balbirhockey pic.twitter.com/figkm8ibBW
— P.T. USHA (@PTUshaOfficial) May 25, 2020
— Sudarsan Pattnaik (@sudarsansand) May 25, 2020
In January last year, Balbir Singh Senior was discharged from PGI after spending more than 100 days in the hospital, where he underwent treatment for bronchial pneumonia. The legendary centre forward was part of the Indian teams that won gold at the 1948 London Olympics, Helsinki 1952 and Melbourne 1956. His record for most individual goals scored in an Olympic men's hockey final remains unbeaten. Balbir had set this record when he scored five goals in India's 6-1 win over the Netherlands in the gold medal match of the 1952 Games.
He was the head coach of the Indian team for the 1975 men's World Cup, which India won and the 1971 Men's World Cup, where India earned a bronze medal. He was also conferred with the prestigious Padma Shri in 1957.