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 Pride Of India - Milkha Singh 

Date of Publish - Wednesday, 11th October 2017
igniting_minds

Milkha Singh, an Indian track, and field sprinter is the only Indian male athlete winning individual athletics Gold medal in the Commonwealth Games. In 1959, he received Padma Shri Award from the President of India for his achievements in sports. He became famous for his fourth-place finish in the 400 meters final during 1960 Olympics in Rome.

From sepoy to the director of sports in Punjab Ministry of Education winning gold medals in national and international games is something worthy to narrate.

Elevation through Sports Career

Like many successful people who met failures initially, Milkha Singh too had his share of defeat in one area that made them successful in another field. When Milkha Singh tried to enroll in the army, he was rejected thrice. In 1952, he joined the Indian army in the technical stream. It was his coach Havildar Gurdev Singh spotted his talent in sports and inspired him to launch a sports career. He worked very hard in his practice. Sooner than later, he drew the attention during the National Games at Patiala in 1956. In 1958, he broke the 200 metres and 400 meters records in the National Games at Cuttack.

Mix of Failures and Success

In his career that has a combination of success and failures, his saddest moment came when he finished fourth in a photo finish at the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome. He won the Olympic 400 m record in the 1960 Rome Olympics, besides winning the Gold medal during Asian Games in 1958 (in the 200m & 400 m categories). In the same year, he received the gold medal in Commonwealth Games. In 1962 Asian Games in he again won the gold medal. During the Summer Olympics 1964 held in Tokyo, he represented the country.

Taking the nationalistic spirit to a new high, he defeated Abdul Khaliq, the winner of the 100 metres gold at the Tokyo Asian Games during the race in Pakistan in 1962. This earned him the getting the tag ‘The Flying Sikh” by the Pakistani President Ayub Khan.

Sepoy to Director of Sports

His sports career made him climb the ranks. His successes in the 1958 Asian Games earned him a promotion from the rank of sepoy to the junior commissioned officer. The crowning glory of his career achievement is when he became the Director of Sports in the Punjab Ministry of Education. Singh’s medals were donated to the country. Initially, they were displayed at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, New Delhi but was shifted to a sports museum in Patiala later. At the sports museum, one can see his pair of shoes which he wore in Rome displayed. In 2012, when actor Rahul Bose organised a charity auction, Singh donated his the pair of Adidas shoes he wore in the 1960 400m final.

In Media

Students, do you want to take inspiration from Milkha Singh? You can find Milkha Singh’s life story in a biographical film, “Bhaag Milkha Bhaag,” directed by Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra. Farhan Akhtar and Sonam Kapoor starred in the movie. When asked Milkha Singh, why he allowed a film to be made in his life, he said that the movie inspires the youngsters. He watched the film to review whether his life’s events were depicted correctly. He wanted the youth to watch this movie and join sports, making India proud by winning medals at the world level. Will education institute listen to his call and inspire the students?

Records, Awards, and Honours

  • 1st 1958 Asian Games in 400 m
  • 1st 1958 Commonwealth Games in 440 yards
  • 1st 1958 Asian Games in 200 m
  • Padma Shri in 1959
  • 1st 1962 Asian Games in 4 x 400 m relay
  • 1st 1962 Asian Games in 400 m
  • 2nd 1964 Calcutta National Games in 400 m

Personal Life

Milkha Singh was married to Nirmal Kaur, the former captain of the Indian Women Volleyball team. The couple had a son, Jeev Milkha Singh, who got fame as a top-ranking international professional golfer According to records in Pakistan, The “Flying Sikh”
was born in Faisalabad, Pakistan on 20 November 1929. Another report states he was born on 8 October 1935.

Conclusion and Challenge

The nation requires many sports heroes to be on par with US, China, Russia, and Germany. Education is one tool for career uplift. Similarly, through sports also one can have a career that can be more flamboyant and recognized. Igniting Minds call upon student editors to act a mediator to the school/college management to promote Milkha Singh’s biographical film “Bhaag Milkha Bhaag” in campuses to create many winners that can bring Laurel to the nation and the concerned education institutes.  

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