‘The Flying Sikh’ Milkha Singh celebrates his 90th birthday today. The epitome of greatness, the man who won 77 of the 80 races he ran, the Dhyanchand of athletics as his fandoms went beyond borders!
We all know him as the fastest runner but what we don’t know about him is, it all started from running as he came to India running for his life at the time of partition when he was 12 years old!
Truly said, fate works in mysterious ways!
On this special day, let’s get to know Milkha Singh a little more! Here are some lesser-known facts about him:
1. After joining the Indian Army in 4th attempt, his talent as an athlete was discovered at Secunderabad EME Centre.
2. In his very first competitive race, Milkha finished 6th amongst 500 racers, which was a cross country race.
3. He gained fame during the 1958 Asian Games where he won Gold Medal for both, 200M and 400M race. It was at 1958 Cardiff Commonwealth Games that Milkha became the first to win a Gold Medal at the Commonwealth Games from independent India.
4. During the 1960 Rome Olympics, he became insanely famous because of his long beard and hair. Since Romans had never seen such an athlete before him, they were under the impression that he was some saint and marvelled at how could he manage to run so fast, being a saint! *Crazy times*
5. In the 1960 Rome Olympics 400M finals, he ran at a speed of 32 km/h, but unfortunately missed the Bronze Medal by 0.1 seconds!
6. In an interview, he revealed that he didn’t turn back during running in the finals, as is shown in the movie!
7. Being the kind soul that he is, Milkha adopted the 7-year-old son Martyr Bikram Singh in 1999, who died during Kargil War.
8. Milkha Singh declined the prestigious Arjuna Award in 2001, citing ‘it came 40 years too late.’
9. Milkha has donated all his medals and trophies to the country which are now kept at a museum in Patiyala for show.
10. Milkha’s last wish before dying is to see an Indian Athlete won a Gold Medal in the Olympics!
We wish Milkha a very Happy Birthday and feel lucky to have him as an inspiration for the upcoming athletes!