Gold medalist in 200m and 400m events at the Asian Games of 1958
Gold medalist in 440 yards at the British Empire and Commonwealth Games of 1958
Honoured with "Padma Shri" by the Government of India in 1959
At the Olympic Games of 1960, he set up a national record by finishing the 400m event in 45.73 seconds
Gold medalist in 400m event and 4x400m relay race at the Asian Games of 1962
Silver medalist in 400m race at the Calcutta National Games of 1964
You can achieve anything in life. It just depends on how desperate you are to achieve it.
These words are quoted by "The Flying Sikh" Milkha Singh, the former Indian sprinter who clinched India's first individual gold medal in Athletics at the Commonwealth Games and four gold medals at the Asian Games of 1958 and 1962. He has set various records in sprint amongst which his personal best timing is 45.73 sec, that he clocked at the 4th position at the 400m Olympic event of 1960, held in Rome, making a national record that he sustained for 41 years. Milkha proudly represented India at the Olympic event of 1956 (Melbourne), 1960 (Rome), and 1964 (Tokyo) with his dynamic and eye-catching performances. Today, he has become an ideal personality for the young generation with a cogent story that depicts Milkha's ‘never say die’ attitude and golden heart that beats for the nation.
Photo Credits: theolympians.co
The legendary athlete was born in Govindpura, a village 10km away from Muzaffargarh (which is now a district in Pakistan) in a Sikh Rajput family. Milkha Singh's birth date is controvertible being 20th November 1929 according to the records of Pakistan and 20th November 1935 according to other official documents. At the tender age of 12, Milkha witnessed a brutal massacre in which his parents and other family members succumbed. Milkha and his brother survived as they ran for life.
Young Milkha decided to join the Indian Army, which took him four attempts to qualify for it. During his exercise sessions in the army, Milkha used to run fast against a meter gauge train which helped him in increasing his pace. At the Asian Games of 1958, Milkha secured a gold medal in 200m and 400m race with timings 21.6 sec and 47 sec, respectively. In the same year, at the Cardiff Commonwealth Games of 1958, he finished first in the 400m race with the timing of 46.16 sec, clinching the gold medal. It was India's first gold medal after independence. Milkha was promoted to Junior Commissioned Officer rank from a Sepoy for his astounding performance at the track and sincere efforts in sports. Post that, Milkha bagged numerous accolades for the nation, winning 77 races out of 80.
After his retirement from the Indian Army, Milkha founded a charitable trust in 2003 to help those sportspersons who have a calibre to win but are lacking with the right guidance and resource. He has donated all his medals and trophies, considering them the nation's property and not his own. Indeed, Milkha is a man of words who proved what he believed. His struggles during the initial phase of life made him strong enough to stand against all odds and to never bow down in front of failure, running to chase victory. In a sportsperson's life, the pressure is always there; you have to learn to deal with it.
I would not stop till I had filled up a bucket with my sweat. I would push myself so much that in the end I would collapse and I would have to be admitted to hospital, I would pray to God to save me, promise that I would be more careful in future. And then I would do it all over again.