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NRI Ajit Singh Gill Singapore’s oldest Olympian, dies at 95

Los Angeles, Jan 16, 2024 A.Gary Singh

Singapore’s oldest Olympian, who competed in the 1956 Melbourne Games, died on Jan 16 aged 95 after battling end-stage renal failure. He is survived by his 92-year-old wife Surjit Kaur, five children, 10 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

His family and friends in the sports community remember him as a sport-loving man whose kind and indefatigable spirit inspired many.

Born in Kuala Lumpur in 1928, Gill was the oldest of 10 siblings, and his family moved to Singapore in 1953, where Gill attended the Teacher Training College. He played hockey and cricket for the Selangor Indian Association from 1948 to 1951 and for the state of Selangor in 1950.

A short corner specialist, he also played for the Singapore Indian Association from 1952 to 1975. Gill reached the pinnacle of sporting success in 1956, when he was selected to represent Singapore in the Melbourne Olympics. There, Singapore won two of its three preliminary matches, losing only to long-time champion, India.

Going further, he represented Singapore in matches against Indonesia, India, Pakistan, Belgium, Britain, New Zealand, Australia, Malaysia.

In the 1960s, he switched to cricket, hitting fours and sixes with ease and thus earning his nickname — “big-hitting Sikh”.

After retiring from coaching cricket and hockey in 1985, he played golf and race walk. In 1990, he topped the Asean Senior Amateur Golf Championship and 26 years later, he claimed gold in the 5,000m race walk at the Asia Masters Athletics Championships on home soil.