India’s legendary sprinter, Mikha Singh, passed away at the age of 91 due to Covid-19 complications on Friday. Milkha Singh was a dominating runner who outpaced all the hurdles. Milkha Singh was also known as the ‘Flying Sikh’.
Milkha Singh’s early life and achievements:
Milkha Singh was born on November 20, 1929. He developed a liking towards the track and field when he was serving in the Indian Army. In 1958 in Wales, Milkha Singh won India’s first individual gold medal at the Commonwealth Games. It was an unforgettable record that stayed with him for over five decades.
The flying Sikh started his Olympic journey at the 1956 Olympics in Australia. However, his second appearance at the Games in Rome was much noted and applauded by the entire world.
In his third and final Olympics in Tokyo, Milkha Singh only participated in the 4x400m relay race in which he and his teammates were eliminated during the heat stages.
Post-1958 Asian Games in Tokyo, the sports fraternity started noticing Milkha Singh because he had bagged two gold medals in 200m and 400m races.
In the 1960 Olympics, Milkha Singh finished fourth in the 400m race at the quadrennial event.
In the 1962 Asian Games in Jakarta, Milkha Singh won the 400m race and also bagged a gold medal in the 4x400m relay race with Daljit Singh, Jagdish Singh, and Makhan Singh.
How Milkha Singh earned the name – ‘Flying Sikh’?
In 1958 Asian Games in Tokyo, Milkha Singh won the title in 21.6 seconds. He defeated Asia’s fastest runner back then, Abdul Khaliq, in the final. Abdul Khaliq took 21.7 seconds to finish the race. The rivalry between the two became intense in the following years. In 1960, the Flying Sikh went on to defeat Khaliq in Lahore, following which then-Pakistan President Ayub Khan termed Milkha the “Flying Sikh“.
Some interesting facts about Milkha Singh:
In the 1960 Rome Olympics, Milkha Singh missed the bronze medal by just 0.1 seconds. However, he came back stronger and bagged a couple of gold medals in 1962 at the Asian Games (Jakarta).
In 1959, the flying Sikh, Milkha Singh was awarded the fourth-highest civilian award in the nation — Padma Shri — for his achievements in the world of sports.
Milkha Singh also has a documentary on himself:
In 2013, Farhan Akhtar starrer ‘Bhaag Milkha Bhaag’ narrated the life and struggle of Milkha Singh. However, in 2012, while promoting the movie at GCM college in Chandigarh, Milkha Singh gifted his famous spikes (worn by him in the 1960 Rome Olympics) to Farhan Akhtar and also gave him lessons on running.
Last year in April 2020, Rajya Sabha TV on Youtube had posted a video of the flying Sikh in which Milkha Singh was seen emphasizing on exercise to keep yourself healthy and active amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
He was really an ‘inspiration for generations to come’. Rest in Peace, Milkha Singh Ji.