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Balbir Singh Sr leaves behind rich legacy: Narinder Batra
New Delhi, May 25 - Narinder Batra, President of the International Hockey Federation (FIH) and member of International Olympic Committee (IOC), has paid tributes to legendary hockey player Balbir Singh Senior, who passed away on Monday morning in Mohali.
The triple Olympic Champion and World Cup-winning team manager had been battling for life since May 8 when he was hospitalised.
"It is with an overwhelming sense of sadness that I condole the death of hockey legend Balbir Singh Dosanjh, a three-time Olympic Games gold medal winner with the Indian team. It is with a deep sense of gratitude that I will remember the way he played the game, shared his knowledge when coaching teams and conducted himself off the pitch," Batra said in a statement.
He won a hat-trick Olympic Games gold medals with the Indian team in London in 1948, Helsinki in 1952 and Melbourne in 1956. As vice-captain of the team in 1952, he scored a hat-trick against Britain in the semi-finals and five of India's goals in its 6-1 win against Holland in the final. It is the record for the most goals in an Olympic Games hockey final.
Though he endeared the disappointment of not being picked for the 1960 and 1964 Olympic Games, his abiding love for the game saw him in various coaching roles with the Indian team from 1971 when it won the bronze medal in the World Cup through to 1975 when it won the World Cup in Kuala Lumpur and the Asian Games silver in New Delhi in 1982.
"A measure of a player's greatness is not just in the skill he exhibits on the hockey pitch but also in the fondness and affection with which he is remembered across nations many years after he last graced the game. Balbir Singh Dosanjh's life is ample testimony to his greatness," said Batra, who is also the President of the Indian Olympic Association (IOA).
"I will cherish the simplicity, humility and pride that he brought to bear in his own charming way. His ready wit and willingness to share his vast knowledge were stand out features. Indeed, Balbir Singh ji leaves behind a rich legacy that cuts across all sport and physical boundaries. My prayers are with his family and the entire sporting community that mourns his passing," he added.
For his stellar contribution to the game, Balbir Sr was awarded the Padma Shri, India's fourth-highest civilian honour in 1957 and was conferred with the Major Dhyan Chand Life Time Achievement Award by Hockey India in 2014.
He also became the only Asian male and only Indian among 16 athletes to be chosen as "Iconic Olympians" by the International Olympic Committee across the modern Olympics' history.
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