Whenever we talk about India’s greatest ever athlete, Milkha Singh’s name comes to our mind first. He had represented India in various high-level events across the globe and made us proud. Despite extreme poverty and hazards, the ace sprinter thrived against all odds. Milkha Singh is the true instance of never giving up attitude and it has inspired millions of people. The date of 18th June is the saddest day in the history of Indian Sports, the legendary sprinter took his last breath after a tough fight with Covid-19 in a hospital in Chandigarh. There are some interesting facts about Milkha Singh the athlete, which many sports lovers are not acquainted with.
Interesting Facts About Milkha Singh
- Milkha Singh was born on 20 November 1929 in the Govindpura village of the present Muzaffargarh district of Pakistan. But he had to flee from there as the riots during the partition of India slain his parents, a brother, and two sisters. It was devastating for him to see his beloved family members dying in front of him.
- Milkha Singh had a big family. He was one of his 15 siblings. Eight of his siblings passed away before the partition of India.
- At the age of 18, Milkha moved to Delhi following the violence in his native place Govindpura in 1947. He lived with his sister Ishvar’s family for a while.
- Milkha’s dismaying life was making him a bandit, but the right suggestion of his brother Malkhan assisted him to get into the Indian army as a sepoy in his fourth attempt in 1951.
- During the posting at Secunderabad, Milkha Singh participated in a cross-country 10 KM run event and completed the race in the sixth position.
- He used to compete with the meter gauge trains to test his ability and strength.
- In the 1956 Melbourne Olympic, Milkha Singh participated in 200m and 400m run. His performance was not good there probably due to inexperience. But in the 400-meter race, Singh ran along with contemporary champion sprinter Charles Jenkins, who shared some tips with him regarding improvement of his running technique.
- Milkha Singh later participated in two more Olympics held in Rome in 1960 and Tokyo in 1964. He finished the finals of the 400-meter race at the 4th position and missed the bronze medal by an exquisite time of 0.1 sec as he looked back to check the positions of his fellow competitors.
- The talented man from Punjab is the only player to win a gold medal in the Commonwealth and Asian games both.
- In the 1958 Commonwealth game in Cardiff, Milkha Singh became the first Indian to win a gold medal in the famous commonwealth game.
- Other Achievements on the track
- Gold Medal in 1958 & 1960 Asian Games in 200 & 400-meter race .
- Gold Medal in 1958 and 1964 National Games in the 200-meter run.
- Pakistan army general Ayub Khan gave him the title “The Flying Sikh” after he defeated Pakistani star sprinter Abdul Khaliq in 1960.
- Due to his exceptional performance in the 1958 Asian Games, the Indian Army promoted him to Junior Commission officer, and eventually, he retired from the Indian army as the Honorary Captain.
- The Punjab government appointed him as the “Director of Sports” in the Punjab Ministry of Education.
- The Government of India conferred him the prestigious “Arjuna Award” in 2001, but he renounced to accept the award as he thought it is supposed to be given to the young athletes and being distributed like prasad in a temple to the undeserving sportspersons.
- In 1959, he was conferred the fourth highest civilian award “Padma Shri”.
- Along with being a sportsperson, Milkha Singh had a big heart also. He adopted Havildar Bikram Singh, a son of a martyr Indian army officer, who died in the Kargil War.
- He got married to ex-Indian volleyball captain Nirmal Saini in 1963. He had a family of seven members, three daughters, and one son together. His son Jeev Milkha Singh is a top-level golfer of India.
- His autobiography “The Race of My Life” was disclosed in 2013. He wrote it along with his daughter Sonia Sanwalka.
- The Flying Sikh took only one rupee from the director of the movie “Bhaag Milkha Bhaag” Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra for making a movie on him. Some parts of the profit of his biography were given to his non-profitable organization called “Milkha Singh Charitable Trust”.
- His wax statue made by Madame Tussauds was divulged in 2017 in Chandigarh. Now the statue is kept in the Delhi Madame Tussauds Museum.
- His estimated net worth was $5 million.
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