Milkha Singh is former Indian track and field athlete who finished fourth in 400m final at 1960 Rome Olympics.Let’s have a brief look at his journey.
Milkha Singh was born on 21st November 1929 in a village near Muzaffargarh City in Punjab Province.He was one of 15 siblings,8 of whom died before partition of India.Escaping the troubles in Punjab,where Hindus and Sikhs were killed,he moved to Delhi in 1947.He was recruited in Indian Army in 1951.Singh acknowledged that army introduced him to sport.He was selected by army for special training in Athletics.
Milkha Singh represented India in 200m and 400m at 1956 Melbourne Olympic Games.His inexperience meant he did not progress beyond heat stages.In 1958 Asian Games in Tokyo,he won gold medal both in 200m and 400m.He also won gold medal in 440 yards at 1958 British Empire Commonwealth Games with a time of 46.6s.This result made him first Indian gold medallist at CWG from Independent India.Before Vikas Gowda won gold in discuss throw at 2014 CWG,Milkha was the only Indian male to have won an individual gold medal in Athletics at CWG.
In 1960 Rome Olympics,he entered as one of the favourites in 400m final.He led the race till 200m mark before easing off allowing others to pass him.Singh missed the bronze and had to finish fourth with a timing of 45.73 which was the Indian national record and stood for almost 40 years.At 1962 Asian Games in Jakarta,he won gold in 400m and 4*400m relay.He took part in 4*400m relay at 1964 Tokyo Olympics but Indian team could not progress beyond heats.
In 1959,Milkha Singh was awarded Padma Shri following his success in 1958.In 2001,he rejected Arjuna award from Indian Govt.arguing that it was intended to recognise young sports people and not retired ones like him.In 2014 he said,the awards nowadays are distributed like’ Prasad’ in a temple.It was like being offered an SSC certificate after securing Masters degree.
All of Singh’s medals have been donated to the nation.They have been kept in sports museum in Patiala where a pair of running shoes he wore in Rome are also displayed.In 2013,a biopic ‘Bhaag Milkha Bhaag’ featuring Farhan Akhtar became a hit.Singh sold the movie rights for one rupee but inserted a clause that a share of the profits would be given to Milkha Singh Charitable Trust.In Sept.2017,Singh’s wax statue was unveiled at Chandigarh.It depicts Singh in running posture during his victorious run at at 1958 CWG.
By Shailesh Padhye for Sportsnasha.com Source:Internet