Indian hockey great Leslie Claudius passes away

Triple Olympic hockey gold winner Leslie Claudius, who was suffering from cirrhosis of the liver, has passed away at the age of 85.

He was admitted to a private hospital following complications on Tuesday. In the last 11 months, Claudius was hospitalised four times and had been struggling to get back to full fitness.

Claudius, 85, is survived by his wife and three sons.

"He died at 3:25 p.m. due to multi-organ failure. He had been admitted with acute complications related to cirrhosis of liver," Woodlands Hospital public relations officer Suparna Sengupta told IANS.

Claudius was one of India's hockey legends. CNN-IBN screengrab

Claudius was one of India's hockey legends. CNN-IBN screengrab

Claudius has three Olympic gold medals - London 1948, Helsinki 1952 and Melbourne 1956. At Rome in 1960, he led India to a silver medal finish. The London Times wrote of him once, "Hockey is not worthwhile seeing if he is not playing".

He is in the Guinness Book of World Records along with Udham Singh for having won the maximum number of Olympic medals in field hockey. He wasn't the tallest or the strongest guy, but his 5ft 4in figure had a way of mesmerising the opposition. He was saint of the right-halfs and the most humble guy you would ever comes across. The first time he played hockey, they had to saw three inches off the stick as he was so short. But he had heart... plenty of it.

He was a man of method. Before matches, for instance, he wouldn't have a bath or a shave, just brush his teeth, lie on the bed and wait, because he "didn't want to waste any energy."

Who would think that many, many years ago, in the time of your fathers, he was once young too. Still short, balanced on stilts masquerading as legs ('bamboo legs' he said they called him)

Claudius also received the Padma Shri a decade after his retirement from international hockey.

To celebrate the 2012 Olympics, the London transport system came up with a special ‘Olympic Legends Map,’ renaming 361 tube stations after Olympic legends. Out of these 361 stations only six stops were named after hockey players, with the three Indians – Dhyan Chand, Roop Singh and Leslie Claudius.

The Watford Junction was renamed after Dhyan Chand, Watford High Street was rechristened after Roop Singh, and Bushey after Claudius.