Balbir Singh Junior, part of India’s 1958 Asian Games silver medal-winning team, dies at 88

Balbir Singh Junior, who was a member of the silver medal-winning 1958 Asian Games Indian hockey team, died in Chandigarh on Tuesday, PTI reported. He was 88 and survived by his wife, daughter and son.

“My father passed away in sleep on Sunday morning due to heart failure,” his daughter Mandeep Samra told the news agency. His son is settled in Canada and could not attend the last rites of his father because of Covid-19 pandemic restrictions.

Born on May 2, 1932, at Sansarpur in Jalandhar, also known as the nursery of Indian hockey, Balbir Singh Junior had played alongside legends like Balbir Singh Senior, Leslie Claudius, Prithipal Singh, Balkishan and Charles Stephen among others.

Singh took to hockey when he was six years old. He studied at Lyallpur Khalsa College in Jalandhar and was first selected to play for the Indian hockey team in 1951 during the tour of Afghanistan.

He was part of the Punjab state hockey team and also captained Panjab University team. Later, he played for the Indian Railways team that toured European countries such as Spain, Switzerland and Italy. The team played Test matches in Netherlands as well.

In 1962, he joined the Army as an emergency commissioned officer. He played for the Services hockey team in the national tournaments at Delhi. Singh retired as a Major in 1984 and later settled in Chandigarh.

Post retirement he took keen interest in playing golf.

“On behalf of Hockey India, I express my deepest condolences to Balbir Singh Junior’s family. His contribution to Indian hockey will always be remembered and the hockey fraternity mourns his demise,” HI President Gyanendro Ningombam said.

Punjab Governor VP Singh Badnore, who is also Administrator Union Territory Chandigarh, expressed condolences at the passing of the hockey player.

Badnore said that Balbir Singh Junior, who represented India in many international championships, will be remembered for his outstanding contribution to the sport.

(With PTI inputs)

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