For a sprinter, the last lap of the race is usually most arduous. At 83, Milkha Singh, better known as ‘Flying Sikh’ is India’s best-known athlete till date. Let’s go down the memory lane.
Race Of Life
During the 1947 partition, Milkha’s parents, along with twelve siblings were slaughtered. It was his super-sonic speed which saved him from the men who were thirsty for his blood – he ran to the railway station and hid under the seats of class-1 ladies compartment and reached New Delhi.
The Secret Of An Unmatchable Stamina
Milkha Singh used to run bare feet with three books (English, Maths, Urdu) on his head for 10 kilometres one way to reach his school in Kot Addo from his village Gobindpura (presently in Pakistan). He used to cross sand dunes and swim in the river. This helped him to build the stamina through a method which no other athlete adopted in India.
Milkha participated in a cross-country race with 300 other jawans and sat down in the middle of the race due to muscle cramps in the stomach. Like most of the school kids!
Well, he came sixth in the race. Milkha was then selected for the 400 m race in the Army and then for 1956 Melbourne Olympics.
What is Athletics?
There was a time when he didn’t know what the racing world was all about and who an athlete is. His coach Gurudev Singh told him to run the whole ground for a single round as if a dog is running behind him to bite. Most of us will win in that case!
He came first of the fifty athletes. Milkha Singh established the national record in 400m sprint within 47.5 seconds.
Do you know, during the historic race of 400m sprint in 1960 Rome Olympics, who was leading the race till the 350m track? It was neither winner nor the second best but Milkha Singh who thought for a moment that other athletes are too far and turned to have a look and lost the flow as they were right behind and the three athletes passed. He recalls it as his worst memory.
We all the Indians call him by this name but you will be surprised to know that it was General Ayub Khan, former President of Pakistan who gave Milkha the name ‘Flying Sikh’ after he defeated Pakistan’s leading athlete Abdul Khaliq.
Race Of Life Continues…
Every Morning Milkha Singh still goes for a jog by the Sukhna Lake in Chandigarh. Most afternoons are spent playing golf and he uses the gym in the house regularly.
Milkha Singh’s life has been a source of inspiration for many. A popular movie starring Farhan Akhtar, ‘Bhaag Milkha Bhaag’, was based on his life.
If you’re thinking where we got the quote ‘sky is the limit’, Milkha Singh said: “The only route to success is hard work and willpower and with determination, the sky is the limit.”
Preview Photo: fridaymagazine.ae