Among the millions of lives lost to the epidemic so far are several Indian athletic giants whose exploits have left a lasting impression. COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on the world over the last year and a half, killing millions of lives in the process.
Several Indian athletic legends, including Olympians, were among those who died as a result of the terrible illness. As the year 2021 comes to a close, we commemorate the athletes who died as a result of the COVID-19 epidemic.
Milkha Singh – Track and field athlete
Milkha Singh, often known as the Flying Sikh, was and continues to be a cornerstone of Indian track and field. He competed for India in three Olympic Games: Melbourne in 1956, Rome in 1960, and Tokyo in 1964. Milkha Singh almost missed out on a medal in the 400m event at the 1960 Olympics in Rome. He finished fourth in 45.73 seconds, a national record that remained for 40 years.
Milkha Singh died on June 18, 2021, at the age of 91. He battled COVID-19 for nearly a month before succumbing five days later, five days after his wife Nirmal Kaur, and a former captain of the Indian women’s volleyball team, succumbed to the same ailment.
Ravinder Pal Singh – Hockey player
Ravinder Pal Singh was a part of India’s Olympic hockey squad that won gold in Moscow in 1980. Pal was a ‘full player who was always eager to develop,’ according to his captain Vasudevan Baskaran.
Ravinder Pal Singh also represented India at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics. From 1979 to 1984, he had a worldwide career that was cut short by a persistent spinal injury. He played in the Champions Trophy in 1980 and 1983, as well as the World Cup and Asia Cup in 1982. Ravinder Pal Singh, 60, died on May 8, 2021, two weeks after being diagnosed with COVID-19.
Maharaj Krishan Kaushik – Hockey player
Maharaj Krishan Kaushik was a wonderful sportsman. He was not only a decorated hockey player on the 1980 Olympic squad, but he also became the national coach for men’s and women’s teams after retiring.
For his contributions to Indian hockey, he got the Arjuna Award in 1998 and the Dronacharya Award four years later. Aside from his on-field accomplishments, MK Kaushik inspired the production of the Bollywood film Chak de! India. MK Kaushik, like his 1980 Olympic colleague Ravinder Pal Singh, died on May 8, 2021, following a three-week fight with COVID-19.
Ahmed Hussain Lala – Footballer
Ahmed Hussain Lala was a defender for the Indian football squad, who performed admirably at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics. In the quarter-finals, India defeated hosts Australia 4-2 and finished fourth, the country’s best-ever placing in an Olympic football event. Ahmed has represented India in a number of other international games, including the Asian Games in 1958. Ahmed Hussain Lala died on April 16, 2021, at the age of 89.
Surat Singh Mathur – Long-distance runner
Surat Singh Mathur was the first runner from Independent India to finish an Olympic marathon event at the 1952 Helsinki Games. Mathur also took bronze in the first Asian Games in 1951. On June 11, 2021, he died of COVID-19 at the age of 90.
Nikhil Nandy – Footballer
Nikhil Nandy, a former footballer, was a key member of India’s defense at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics. He also assisted India in reaching the semi-finals of the Asian Games in Tokyo in 1958. Nikhil Nandy continued to serve as a coach after retiring and temporarily led the Indian football team. Nikhil Nandy died on December 29, 2020, at the age of 88, as a result of health issues related to COVID-19.
Sanjay Chakravarty – Shooting coach
Sanjay Chakravarty did not compete in the Olympics, but he did help India win one of the largest medals. Abhinav Bindra, 2008 Olympic gold medallist, Gagan Narang, Anjali Bhagwat, Suma Shirur, Deepali Deshpande, Anuja Jung, and Ayonika Paul were all trained by the famed shooting teacher.
For his work as a shooting coach, Chakravarty got the Dronacharya Award and the Maharashtra Dadoji Konddev Award. He was also India’s national coach. On April 3, 2021, Sanjay Chakravarty was 79 years old when he died as a result of COVID-19.
Ramesh Tikaram – Para athlete
Ramesh Tikaram, who has had polio since he was two years old, represented India in a variety of sports in the 1992 Paralympics. Before focusing on badminton, he excelled at the shot put, discus throw, and javelin throw.
Tikaram formed the Challenged Badminton Sports Association, which ultimately joined with the Badminton Association of India. Tikaram was awarded the Arjuna Award for his contributions to Indian para-sports in 2002. On July 15, 2021, he died of COVID-19 at the age of 51.