Hockey legend Balbir Singh Sr. remains critical in hospital

The former captain had been admitted after a pneumonia scare and continues to be on ventilator support.

By Rahul Venkat ·

After nearly two weeks of being hospitalized, and battling multiple cardiac arrests, three-time Olympic gold-medallist Balbir Singh Sr is in a semi-comatose state at a hospital in Chandigarh.

“The MRI brain report shows a small fresh blood clot in the brain,” his maternal grandson Kabir said in a statement. “There have been fresh pneumonia patches detected in his lungs.

“Treatment is being attempted. He continues to be on ventilator support and doctors are continuously assessing his condition,” the statement added.

Balbir Singh Sr was admitted on May 8th after he experienced a 104-degree fever. His family doctor Dr Rajinder Kalra had initially tried giving him sponge baths but recommended hospitalization when his condition did not improve.

Tests revealed that many of his organs had been affected and the 96-year-old has since suffered three cardiac arrests.

Though his blood pressure and heart rate had stabilized through life support last week, he has not regained consciousness so far.

Balbir Singh Sr had also tested negative for COVID-19 in the interim.

This is the fourth time in the past two years that the former Indian hockey captain and coach has been admitted to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU).

The most serious of those incidents came in January last year when Balbir Singh Sr spent more than three months in hospital, recovering from bronchial pneumonia.

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Indian hockey’s finest

The first sportsperson to be awarded the Padma Shri, India’s fourth-highest civilian honour, in 1957, Balbir Singh Sr is considered one of the best players of all-time.

His unorthodox, upright position while entering the attacking circle often flummoxed goalkeepers and allowed him to net many a goal.

Balbir Singh Sr won an Asian Games silver in addition to the three Olympic golds and later went on to coach the Indian hockey team to its only World Cup victory to date in 1975.