Milkha Singh is a retired Indian athlete and has represented the country in the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome and the 1964 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. He is nicknamed The Flying Sikh. The Indian President
has also awarded the prestigious Padma Shri to Milkha Singh in 1958, when he won the gold medal in the British and Commonwealth Games. He is also the father of Jeev Milkha Singh
, a professional golfer. Milkha Singh is considered as one of the greatest Indian athletes
. Milkha Singh was the first gold medal winner, in the Commonwealth Games, of independent India.
Early Life of Milkha Singh
Milkha Singh was born on 8th October 1931 in Faisalabad (now known as Lyallpur, in Pakistan). His parents died in the massacres that took place during the Partition of India
in 1947. He was rejected by the army for 3 times, but then finally got enrolled in the electrical mechanical engineering branch of Indian Army
in 1952, with reference from his brother Malkhan Singh. While in the army, Singh experienced his first sporting event and was determined to develop his skills as a sprinter. Milkha Singh took training from Coach Havildar Gurdev Singh.
Career of Milkha Singh
Milkha Singh participated in the Melbourne Olympics in 1956 for the first time and due to lack of experience, he could not perform his best. He won the gold medal in the 200m and 400 m at the 1958 and 1962 Asian Games. Milkha Singh won two medals at the 1962 Asian Games.
Milkha Singh also won the gold medal at the 1958 Commonwealth Games. The burst of speed with which he broke the previous Olympic Games record of 45.9 seconds in 400 meters is now a part of folklore in Punjab
. He set the record in the 200 and 400 metres at the Cuttack National Games. His national record in the 400m for 33 years and Asian record for 26 years, Milkha Singh became a household name when he clocked 45.6 to finish 4th at the Rome Olympics in I960. It was the closest any Indian athlete had come to winning an Olympic medal. Milkha Singh still retains the monopoly of the 200 meters; his 20.7 seconds clocked during the Indo-Pakistan meet at Lahore on the 31st January 1960.
Milkha Singh`s first victory came when he went on to win the 2nd prize in the 200m and 400m at the Services Athletics Meet held in 1955. Practicing all by his own, Singh improved his performance to establish himself as a front ranker at the 1956 National Games in Patiala
. He won both the events and two years later, at the Cuttack
Nationals, set national records in both. His 46.1sec in 400m in the National Games in 1960 was acclaimed as a world-class performance. He also represented the country in the Melbourne Olympics in 1956, but he was eliminated in the heats itself. But the experience had prepared him for the Asian Games in Tokyo, the Commonwealth Games and the Olympics in Rome. Milkha Singh won the 200 and 400 m in the Asian Games with timings of 21.6 and 47 seconds respectively and went on to clock 46.16 seconds to earn the Gold in the Commonwealth Games. His Asian record of 45.63 seconds stood for 26 years before it was bettered by Japan`s Susunu Takona.
The biggest moment of his life came in the historic 400 m race in the 1960 Rome Olympics. Milkha Singh was one of the strong contenders for the Gold and had had a fantastic run-up to the occasion, having won 77 of the 80 races, including the Commonwealth Games, that season. He would have surely won a medal at the Rome Olympics, he misjudged his pace and in a split second, 3 others had sped past him.
Retirement of Milkha Singh
After his retirement, Milkha Singh was appointed as the Director of Sports in Punjab
A film named Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, based on his life, is being made by renowned filmmaker Rakeysh Mehra and features Farhan Akhtar
and Sonam Kapoor
Awards and Achievements of Milkha Singh
* Gold medal - 1958 Asian Games in the 200 m and 400 m
* Gold medal - 1962 Asian Games
* 1959- Awarded the Padma Shri