Milkha Singh, also fondly known as the ‘Flying Sikh’ was twice Asian Games champion in the 400 metres and Commonwealth champion in 1958
A Padma Shri and Arjuna Award winner, the legendary athlete who started his career on a Rs 10 wage went on to become director, sports, ministry of education in the Punjab government
Milkha Singh was born on the 8th of October 1935 at Lyallpur (now in Pakistan), and had a very difficult childhood when he saw his parents and relatives being killed in front of his own eyes during the Indo-Pak partition Massacre. A 12 year old Milkha escaped for his life and hiding himself behind the corpses in the train to India,
Singh tried to get into the Army 3 times, but was rejected. Finally, his brother Malkhan Singh helped him get into the Electrical Mechanical Engineering branch of the Army in 1952, and it was there that he participated at the first sports meet in his life.
Under the guidance of his mentor Havaldar Gurdev Singh, Milkha began training hard and harder at the Army to become an accomplished Athlete. Determined to be the best and realising his talent as a sprinter, the jawan took to training five hours every day. He trained running on the hills, the sands of the Yamuna river, and against the speed of a metre gauge train. So intense was his training that very often he vomitted blood and would collapse in exhaustion.
showed his prowess for the first time at the Services Athletic Meet 1955,
wherein he finished 2nd in the 200m and 400m race events. After delivering a
much better performance and winning both the events at the National Games 1956
held at Patiala, Milkha went on to break the 200m and 400m records in the
National Games 1958, held at Cuttack. He clocked 46.1m in 400m at National Games
1960 that was considered to be a World Class performance of that time. But, his
best had still to arrive.
Probably the best period during Milkha’s career as an Athlete arrived between the year 1958 and 1960. He won Gold Medals in both 200m and 400m events at the Tokyo Asian Games 1958, clocking 21.6 seconds and 47 seconds respectively. At the Cardiff Commonwealth Games held the same year, he improved his 400m timing to 46.16 seconds, and grabbed a Gold Medal again. He famously lost the 400m bronze in the 1960 Rome Olympics by fraction of a second
Milkha Singh defeated the Fastest Pakistani runner Abdul Khaliq who had won a 100m Gold Medal at Tokyo Asian Games 1958 in the year 1962, and the Pak President Ayub Khan named him ‘The Flying Sikh’, a name that has became immortal forever in the history of Indian Athletics.
Honoring the incredible and hitherto the best performance by any Indian Athlete that Milkha Singh delivered throughout his sports career, he was bestowed upon the Padma Shri award (1958) and the Arjuna Award by the Government of India
For the man who won 77 of the 80 races he ran, Milkha Singh has no medals. It has been some years that 'The Flying Sikh' donated his sporting treasures to the nation. No personal souvenirs line his living room walls, no trophies sit on the mantle. Instead, the walls make do with pictures of the surgeon in America who saved his wife's life and Havildar Bikram Singh, a Kargil martyr.
As he stated, “I trained so hard that my sweat would fill a bucket. I was on the deathbed several times because of my training. But I overcame everything because of my love for my country. The army, too, played a major role in my achievements.”
." Jeev Milkha Singh, India's best golfer, and Milkha Singh’s son was recently awarded the Arjuna Award and is striving to make a mark on the international golf circuit
. "It is appreciation from the people that helps me go ahead at this age," Singh had earlier said at his home in Sector 8, Chandigarh. With two of his daughters married and one away in the United States, and his son travelling around the world regularly .Recently , he adopted the seven-year-old son of Havildar Bikram Singh who died in the Battle for Tiger Hill. The child is at a boarding school and Singh has taken on the responsibility of bringing him up.
After retirement, Milkha Singh holds the appointment of Director of Sports in Punjab.
The story of this great hero, who achieved tremendous professional success through struggle and determination, will soon be turned into a stirring film that would motivate the youth of the country to shine in sports.
Though many young Indian runners have always dreamt to make a mark like Milkha Singh did, India has never had a champion like him again. Even today, after so many years, there has been no one who could better his feats.
The hero has sold his life’s story for a rupee to director Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra, who would be making the biopic to inspire today's youth to succeed against all odds. Mehra has tentatively titled the ‘Bhag, Milkha, Bhag’ (Run, Milkha, Run). May be Akhsaykumar or Abhishek bachen may act as Milkha singh. Let us wait and see.