May 25 (Reuters) - India's three-times Olympic gold medallist Balbir Singh has died at the age of 95 after a prolonged pulmonary illness.
Singh helped India win its first Olympic gold as an independent country at the 1948 London Games when they beat Britain 4-0 in the final. India then went on to defend the title at the next two Games in Helsinki and Melbourne.
Singh scored five goals in India's 6-1 victory over the Netherlands in the 1952 final -- a record that still stands. He also captained the country at the 1956 Games when they scored 38 goals in five matches and conceded none.
"Today, we have not only lost our greatest hockey legend but we have also lost 'our guiding light'," Hockey India president Mohammed Mushtaque Ahmad said in a statement.
"His achievements in post-independent era have been well-documented ... Hockey has lost its brightest star and everyone at Hockey India is pained by this news."
Following his retirement, Singh coached the Indian team which won the World Cup in 1975. (Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Rutherford )