Indian hockey legend Balbir Singh Sr, a three-time Olympic gold medallist, was admitted to a hospital in Chandigarh on Saturday after he experienced high fever a few days back.
“Balbir had a 104-degree fever on Thursday night. Initially, we tried to manage by giving him sponge baths at home but [when] his condition didn’t improve we tried to shift him to PGI, Chandigarh,” Dr Rajinder Kalra, a former Indian hockey team and Singh’s family doctor, told the Press Trust of India.
“Since PGI Chandigarh is a COVID hospital, it was difficult to get him admitted in the ICU. So, we admitted him in Fortis, Mohali. He is currently in ICU but better than yesterday.”
Dr Kalra added that Balbir Singh Sr. had also been tested for COVID-19, the results of which are expected on Sunday.
Balbir Singh Sr, who resides in Chandigarh with his daughter Sushbir and grandson Kabir, had also been hospitalized at the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education & Research (PGI) early last year for bronchial pneumonia.
The 96-year-old spent more than three months undergoing treatment and made a full recovery despite almost suffering a near cardiac failure when admitted.
An Indian hockey legend
Balbir Singh Sr was one of the most lethal forwards of the Indian hockey team and was arguably the best player in the world during his prime. He took over the mantle from the wizard Dhyan Chand, and like his predecessor, was part of three Olympic gold-winning Indian hockey teams.
He scored seven goals across two Olympic finals in 1948 and 1952 and was promoted to captain during the 1956 Olympics, where he played a true leader’s role.
Having suffered a fracture in his right hand during the semi-finals against Germany, he was expected to sit out the final.
However, the fact that it was against arch-rivals Pakistan spurred Balbir Singh Sr on and he soldiered through the pain, leading the Indian hockey team to a historic sixth Olympic gold medal.