Milkha Singh, fondly called The Flying Sikh, was born on 20th November 1932 in Govindpura, Punjab. He was a popular sprinter who is well-known for his performances in track and field events. Milkha was born in British India and his birthplace is now in Pakistan. He is born with 15 siblings and 8 of them died at an early age. During the partition of India and Pakistan, Milkha’s parents and three siblings were killed. Their death happened in front of him. After reaching Delhi, he stayed with his sister’s family. But, soon, he was arrested and sent to jail for traveling without a ticket. He had been in a refugee camp for a while. In 1951, he joined the Indian Army. He was introduced to the sports, as he is quick in the running. He took part in Melbourne Olympic Games in 1956. He participated in the 200m and 400m competitions. But, he couldn’t succeed due to his inexperience. In 1958, he created a new record at the National Games of India in 200 and 400m, held at Cuttack. Milkha Singh is the first gold medalist at the Commonwealth Games held in 1958. After winning medals at the Asian Games in 1958, he was promoted to Junior Commissioned Officer from Sepoy. In the same year, he was honored with Padma Shri.
When the Indian Government announced the Arjuna Award for him in 2001, Milkha Singh didn’t accept it and stated that the award is meant to recognize the talents of the young sports personalities and boost them and not the experienced like him. He also stated that getting an Arjuna Award is like receiving an SSC certificate after getting a Master’s degree, as he was already awarded Padma Shri 43 years back. Milkha Singh donated all his medals to the country and they had been displayed at the Delhi Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium and then to Patiala sports museum. A couple of shoes he wore were also kept in the museum. Neither the number of races in which Milkha Singh participated nor his victories are verified. His record in the Olympics held in 1960 was overtaken after 38 years in 1998.
In the Punjab Ministry of Education, Milkha Singh had been the Director of Sports and retired in 1998. Milkha Singh is married to Nirmal Kaur, who was the Captain of the Indian Women’s Volleyball team when they met first. The couple has two children, a daughter Sonia Sanwalka and a son, Jeev Milkha Singh, a golfer by profession. In 1999, during the Battle of Tiger Hill, Havildar Bikram Singh lost his life for the nation and Milkha Singh adopted Bikram’s son, who was 7-years-old. Milkha founded a charitable trust in 2003 to help needy sportspeople. He wrote his autobiography in association with his daughter Sonia in 2013. The book, The Race of My Life inspired the filmmakers and as a result, the film
Bhaag Milkha Bhaag
was made. Milkha didn’t get any amount for the film's rights but asked the makers to donate the profit share to his trust to help the needy sportspeople. In 2017, Madame Tussauds honored him by installing his wax statue in
. The statue resembled Milkha’s running posture in the 1958 Commonwealth Games, where he grabbed a gold.