India rocked by devastating tragedy amid Test Championship final

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Indian players, pictured here wearing black armbands on the second day of the World Test Championship final.
Indian players wore black armbands on the second day of the World Test Championship final against New Zealand. (AP Photo/Ian Walton)

India wore black armbands on day two of the World Test Championship final against New Zealand on Saturday after the death of track legend Milkha Singh.

Dubbed the 'Flying Sikh', Singh died at the age of 91 following a long battle with Covid-19.

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A four-time Asian Games gold medallist who also competed at the Olympics, Singh died at a hospital in the north Indian city of Chandigarh late on Friday.

"The Indian Cricket Team is wearing black armbands in remembrance of Milkha Singhji, who passed away due to Covid-19," the BCCI tweeted on Saturday.

India captain Virat Kohli had earlier paid tribute to Singh - widely regarded as India's finest Olympic athlete.

"A legacy that inspired a whole nation to aim for excellence," he tweeted.

"To never give up and chase your dreams. Rest in Peace Milkha Singh. You will never be forgotten."

India coach Ravi Shashtri wrote: India’s greatest Olympics runner. Shook the world in 60s with his competitive spirit in spite of the most limited facilities. 

"He took the word determination and will to compete to another level. Respect. God bless your soul."

Milkha Singh, pictured here watching son Jeev Milkha Singh at the Celtic Manor Wales Open in 2010.
Milkha Singh watches son Jeev Milkha Singh at the Celtic Manor Wales Open in 2010. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said India had "lost a colossal sportsperson, who captured the nation's imagination and had a special place in the hearts of countless Indians."

Cricket icon Sachin Tendulkar said Singh's legacy would live on.

"Rest in Peace our very own 'Flying Sikh' Milkha Singh ji," he tweeted.

"Your demise has left a deep void in every Indian's heart today, but you shall keep inspiring several generations to come."

Singh, who first tested positive for the virus on May 20 according to Indian media, is survived by three daughters and one son - leading pro golfer Jeev Milkha Singh.

Singh's wife had also died from the virus earlier in the week.

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Singh overcame childhood tragedy to become Olympic hero

Singh was born in 1929 in Govindpura, in what is now Pakistan.

He lost his family during the tumultuous partition of British-ruled India at independence in 1947, when it was divided into Pakistan and India, before going on to become one of the young country's first athletic heroes.

Singh won gold medals at the 1958 and 1962 Asian Games.

However, he shot to fame at the 1960 Olympics in Rome when he finished fourth in the 400m, 0.66 seconds behind Otis Davis of the United States who set a new world record of 45.07sec to win.

Singh was devastated but his time of 45.73sec stood as an Indian national record for almost 40 years. 

He never fulfilled his dream of winning an Olympic medal.

His rise to elite athlete made Singh a national hero and inspired a Bollywood film in 2013 called "Bhaag Milkha Bhaag" (Run, Milkha, Run).

with agencies

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