Born on 20 November 1929 in Govindpura, Punjab Province, British India, Milkha Singh is an acclaimed former Indian track & field sprinter. What comes as an exuberant fact is that, Milkha Singh is the sole male athlete of the country who has won a Commonwealth Gold medal. In lieu of his out of the box achievements, President of India accredited him with prestigious Padma Shri award in the year 1959. The “Flying Sikh” is famous for finishing fourth in the 400-meters race at the 1960’s Olympic Games. He has also won gold medals for the India during 1958 as well as 1962 Asian Games respectively.
Early Life of Milkha Singh
Milkha Singh belonged to a Sikh Rathore family. During the times of undivided India, there were around 15 siblings of Milkha Singh. When he was a teenager, the partition of the India happened & that marked the beginning of his journey. His father & other family members were killed in front of him, he had to run for his life upon his father’s last cry. He came to Delhi during the partition & met his sister. Later he went on joining the Indian army.
After the Partition
The “Flying Sikh” of today was rejected thrice by the Indian Armed Forces. Later in 1952, he was selected in the Indian Army’s electrical engineering branch. Havildar Gurdev Singh played a vital role in the life of Milkha Singh, he was his coach & he inspired Milkha to the crux. Once, Indian Army was looking for new recruits, he had participated in the cross-country run & finished Sixth. Considering the fact that Singh acknowledged that he didn’t know what running is, Indian Army had selected him for the special training.
Milkha Singh later garnered the limelight during the National Games hoisted at Patiala in the year 1956. In the same year, he had represented India during the Melbourne Olympic Games under the 200 m & 400 m category respectively. Athlete Charles Jenkins is his favourite till date, he also provided Milkha with tips and training methods as well. Later, he went on breaking the ravishing National records under the 200 m & 400 m during the National games held at Cuttack in 1958. The year was of great success for him. He represented the country at the British Empire’s & Commonwealth Games, in a record time of just 46.6 seconds, he won a Gold Medal in the 400 m category.
Race in Pakistan
This can be the moment which is cherished till date. Pt. Nehru convinced Milkha Singh to forget about his past and go to Pakistan. In the year 1962, he went to Pakistan & defeated the country’s national champion Abdul Khaliq. That was the day when the President of Pakistan, Ayub Khan gave him the title of “The Flying Sikh”.
Further Endeavours of Milkha Singh
After 1958, in lieu of his commendable achievements, Indian Army had promoted Milkha Singh to the rank of Junior Commissioned Officer (JCO). Later Sh. Milkha Singh went on becoming the Director of Sports under the Punjab Government’s Ministry of Education. In 1998, he retired and donated all of his medals to India. In the beginning, his medals were on display at the Pt. Nehru Stadium in the National Capital Delhi. Today, you can have a glimpse of Milkha Singh’s medals at the Sports Museum of Patiala.
His famous quote,
“Hard work, willpower & dedication; for a person with these qualities, the sky is the limit.”
Family & Residence of Milkha Singh
Milkha Singh is residing in Chandigarh, India till date. His wife, Smt. Nirmal Kaur is the former Indian women’s volleyball team captain. Together, they had 4 children, three daughters & a son. Singh family later went on adopting the son of a martyred soldier in the year 1999.
Written By: Milan Bhardwaj