Amazing Facts of The Flying Sikh Milkha Singh

  • 12 Apr 2018
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Milkha Singh otherwise known as the ‘Flying Sikh’, one of the first few athletes to represent India in athletics in the Olympics during the 50’s and the 60’s. History will always remember him as the man who missed a bronze medal for India in the 400-metre track and field event in the 1960 Rome Olympics.

His life is a compelling story worth to be told:

1. Milkha was eleven during the partition (1947) when his family was killed in the communal riots in Lyallpur (now Faisalabad in Pakistan). His father’s last words to him were, “Bhaag Milkha” (run for your life Milkha).
2. The 11-year-old Milkha clung onto a Delhi-bound train to save his life. When in Delhi, he did odd jobs to earn a living.
3. He developed the desire to get into the Indian Army so that he can have proper food but was selected only after three failed attempts.
4. Within years of joining the Army, Milkha had 200- and 400-metre records to his name. This opened doors for the ‘flying Sikh’ to represent India at the world stage.
5. Milkha was eliminated in the first round of 1956 Olympics in Melbourne, Australia
6. Milkha went about practicing like a man possessed for the next four years. The rigorous training took such a toll on the man that at the end of some training sessions he was left spitting blood.
7. Milkha’s pursuit of the Olympic medal looked on course as he set new records in the 200 and 400 metres at the Cuttack National Games. He bagged two gold medals at the 1958 Asian Games in Tokyo and went on to win the gold at the 1958 Commonwealth Games in Cardiff. 
8. Milkha reigned supreme during this period and bagged America’s Helms trophy for being the best 400-metre runner of 1959.
9. In the 1960 Rome Olympics, Milkha shone through the qualifiers and was tipped to win the silver but for the twist in the tale.
10. In the penultimate race, Milkha led the pack for the first 250 metres or so, but it was then that he slowed a few paces and glanced back to take a stock of his competitors. This fraction of a second was time enough for three to overtake him.

11. This defeat sent Milkha into depression, but he still managed to retain his 400 metre gold at 1962 Asian Games despite the odds.
12. His son, an ace golfer, Jeev Milkha Singh, went on record to say that his father would ‘die with the regret`.
13. Milkha, a recipient of the Padma Shri in 1958, refused to accept the Arjuna award in 2001, saying it came `40 years too late`.
14. When makers of his biopic, Bhaag Milkha Bhaag approached him with the rights, Milkha reportedly sold them the rights for a token of Re 1.
15. Milkha Singh presented the shoes that he wore during the Rome Olympic to Farhan Akhtar during the shoot of ‘Bhaag Milkha Bhaag’.

Bhaag Milkha Bhaag hits Tara HD on 15 April @10pm only on Astro

Photo Credit: SantaBanta & Hindustan Times

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