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Former India hockey players MK Kaushik, Ravinder Pal Singh die due to Covid-19

File photo: Former Olympian and national hockey coach MK Kaushik pictured in 2010 Kaushik Roy/The India Today Group via Getty Images

MK Kaushik, a key member of India's last Olympic gold-winning team and later a successful coach of the national side, died on Saturday due to Covid-19. Tragically, his 1980 teammate Ravinder Pal Singh also died on Saturday from the same causes.

Kaushik, 66, had tested positive on April 17 and was admitted to a nursing home in New Delhi. Kaushik had coached both India's senior men and women's teams. Under his coaching, the men's team won a gold medal at the 1998 Asian Games in Bangkok, while the women's team won bronze at the Doha Asian Games in 2006. He is survived by his son and wife.

"He was put on ventilator this morning but passed away just now," his son Ehsan told PTI.

Kaushik had first developed symptoms last month but RTPCR and RAT tests returned negative. It was only after he went for a CT scan on chest on April 24 that he was detected with COVID pneumonia and was hospitalised.

Since then his condition was between, neither stable nor serious. His oxygen level dropped drastically at night in last few days. Kaushik's wife was also getting treatment at the same hospital after contracting the virus but she was recovering well.

He was awarded the Arjuna Award in 1998, and the Dronacharya award in 2002.

Singh, 60, died on Saturday morning in Lucknow. He was admitted at the Vivekananda Hospital on April 24 after contracting the virus.

According to family sources, he had recovered from the virus and was shifted to non-COVID ward on Thursday after testing negative. But his condition suddenly deteriorated on Friday and he was put on a ventilator.

Singh, who also played at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, did not get married, and is survived by a niece, Pragya Yadav.

Singh also played in the 1979 Junior World Cup and took voluntary retirement from State Bank of India after quitting hockey.

Born in Sitapur on September 6, 1960, Singh excelled as a centre-half from 1979 to 1984.

Besides two Olympics, Singh had also represented India in the Champions Trophy in Karachi (1980, 1983), Silver Jubilee 10-nation Cup in Hong Kong in 1983, 1982 World Cup in Mumbai and 1982 Asia Cup in Karachi, among other tournaments.

Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju condoled the death of the double Olympian.

"I'm deeply saddened to learn that Shri Ravinder Pal Singh ji has lost the battle to Covid19. With his passing away India loses a golden member of the hockey team that won Gold in the 1980 Moscow Olympics. His contribution to Indian sports will always be remembered," he tweeted.

Hockey India also mourned the untimely demise of Singh.

"Hockey India extends its deepest condolences to Ravinder Pal Singh's family. Ravinder made an immense contribution to Indian hockey and his achievements will always be remembered. May Ravinder's family and friends have the strength to pass through this difficult time," HI president Gyanendro Ningombam said.