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Personalities from all walks of life mourn loss of Milkha Singh

Punjab to cremate ‘Flying Sikh’ with state honours, Indian cricket team wear black armbands
Milkha Singh.

Our Bureau, Agencies   |   New Delhi   |   Published 19.06.21, 04:11 PM

Celebrities and personalities from all walks of life joined in to mourn the end of an era as they paid tributes to sprint icon Milkha Singh, describing him as an epitome of "hard work" and "determination".

The Indian cricket team on Saturday wore black armbands on the second day of the World Test Championship final against New Zealand as a mark of respect to Milkha.

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This is one of the rare occasions when Indian cricket team wore black armbands for a legend of Olympic sports.

"The Indian Cricket Team is wearing black armbands in remembrance of Milkha Singhji, who passed away due to Covid-19," the BCCI media cell posted a message.

Earlier, skipper Kohli paid his tribute to the legendary Olympian.

"A legacy that inspired a whole nation to aim for excellence. To never give up and chase your dreams. Rest in Peace MilkhaSingh ji. You will never be forgotten," Kohli tweeted.

The film fraternity also mourned the loss of the ‘Flying Sikh’. 

In a statement posted on his various social media accounts, Farhan Akhtar, who spent a lot of time and got to know Singh personally while playing the lead role in the 2013 biopic "Bhaag Milkha Bhaag", said he is unable to come to terms with the sports icon's demise.

"A part of me is still refusing to accept that you are no more. Maybe it's the stubborn side I inherited from you...the side that when it sets its mind on something, just never gives up. And the truth is that you will always be alive," he said.

The 47-year-old actor described Singh as a large-hearted, down to earth man, who showed how with hard work, honesty and determination one can touch the sky.

"You represented an idea. You represented a dream. You represented (to use your own words) how hard work, honesty and determination can lift a person off his knees and get him to touch the sky. For those who knew you as a father and a friend, it was a blessing. For those who didn't as a constant source of inspiration and a reminder of humility in success," he added.

"In grief... Milkha Singh passes away... the pride of India... a great athlete... a greater human," megastar Amitabh Bachchan wrote on Twitter on Saturday morning.

Hurdler Gurbachan Singh Randhawa, Milkha's 1960 and 1964 Olympic Games teammate and one of the few surviving athletes to have witnessed the memorable 400m race in person, vividly remembered how it had all built up at Rome.

"I was very much there, the entire Indian contingent was there in anticipation of history being created. Everybody was expecting a medal from him. Everybody was waiting (for the race) with bated breath," the 82-year-old recalled in a conversation with PTI.

"He was in top form, his timing was among the best in the world that time. Gold or silver was difficult for him but everybody was sure that he would at least win a bronze. He was capable of that," he added.

But Milkha missed the bronze by a whisker, clocking 45.6 seconds, 0.1 seconds more than third-place finisher Malcolm Spence of South Africa, whom he had beaten to win the gold in the 1958 Commonwealth Games.

“Dark clouds of sadness prevail with the demise of my idol and inspiration Milkha Singhji. His story of sheer determination and hard work inspired millions and will continue to do so. As a tribute to him, students of Usha School paid homage to the legend. Rest in Peace,” Olympian PTI Usha said.

"In the passing away of Shri Milkha Singh Ji, we have lost a colossal sportsperson, who captured the nation's imagination and had a special place in the hearts of countless Indians," PM Narendra Modi said in a tweet.

The Punjab government announced that the icon will be cremated in Chandigarh on Saturday evening with full state honours. The state will also observe a day of mourning in the wake of the passing away of the track and field legend, CM Amarinder Singh said.

 

The 91-year-old Milkha Singh died on Friday night after a month-long battle with Covid-19. He had lost his former national volleyball captain wife Nirmal Kaur to the same ailment.



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