Literature & Life

How MILKHA SINGH received the title… THE FLYING SIKH

Milkha Singh is the first ever sports star of India. He was a sprinter. Sprinting is nothing but running over a short distance in a limited period of time. He was born on 28 November 1929, and was also known as the FLYING SIKH of India. He almost dominated this sport for over a decade. His stamina and spirit to win was unparalleled and that is the reason why he won many awards and medals. He was also awarded with India’s one of the highest civilian honours PADMASHREE. Along with that he also won gold medals in Commonwealth Games, Asian Games and many National-International Level Competitions. He represented India in the Olympic Games for three times in his lifetime.

Milkha Singh was introduced to sprinting while he was serving for Indian Army. He was born in a Sikh family in GOVINDPURA which now belongs to the Pakistani territory. He received all the required training for this sport in the Indian Army; and this training helped him to be one of the greatest Indian Sprinters of all time. Besides this his dedication, hard-work and his determination to reach the top also helped him to be successful in his career. His autobiography entitled THE RACE OF MY LIFE was published in 2013. THE FLYING SIKH is the 11th chapter from his autobiography. In this chapter he tells us how he received the title… THE FLYING SIKH.

Milkha Singh begins his story from his Triumph at Commonwealth Games. This Triumph gave him an International Celebrity Status and during 1958 to 1960 he travelled throughout the world and participated around 80 international races and out of those 80 races he won 77. The whole international media was talking about him and his achievements as he broke several records and established new ones and he was looking forward for the Olympic Games which were going to take place at Rome in 1960.

Before going for the Olympic Games he had to participate in National Games at National Stadium, Delhi. Milkha Singh invited his sister there to see him run and she was also very excited to see her brother there at the National Stadium. Milkha Singh and his sister had a great bonding and because of that bonding she cared for him a lot so she advised him that he should not get exhausted by running too fast… but as a sportsman, Milkha Singh said that running didn’t exhaust him; it actually gave him the added strength. His sister felt proud for him and wished their parents were there to see his success. At the stadium he gave his India Blazer to his sister and made proper arrangements for the whole family in that stadium and stayed with them until the event began. Finally the event began and Milkha Singh as usual won the race but he fainted after winning the race. His sister got very afraid to see him in that condition. She thought that her brother had been shot dead by the gun which started the race. After a while, MILKHA SINGH recovered and got a medal there and during three days of this sporting event he set five new records.

After the national games Milkha Singh and his team received an invitation from Pakistan Government for the Indo-Pak sports meet. Milkha Singh’s mind got crowded with various thoughts regarding the invitation from Pakistan Government because the place he was born, now belonged to the Pakistani Territory and during the partition of India and Pakistan he lost his home, family and property there and he was afraid that visiting Pakistan will bring back all those horrible memories. So he decided not to participate in that competition but Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India insisted him to go there as that visit was for the honour of India and he was going to visit Pakistan as an Ambassador for India. So Milkha Singh had no option but to go there.

When he visited Pakistan he found banners and posters everywhere carrying large print notices….. “Indo-Pak Athlete Dual: Abdul Khaliq to Meet Milkha Singh!” Abdul Kahliq was Milkha Singh’s old opponent whom Milkha Singh had defeated in Tokyo Games. That is the reason why people of Pakistan were very excited for this event because they wanted their national sports hero to avenge Milkha Singh by winning the race at Gaddafi Stadium, Pakistan. There were around 30,000 male spectators and several thousand female spectators. Their excitement level was very high and finally the game started… Khaliq won the 100 metres and Milkha Singh the 400 metre race. So final deciding race was going to take place… and which was 200 metre one. Milkha Singh’s teammates were very confident about him because his timing and technique was too good. Therefore they were confident that Milkha Singh will definitely win the race. But on the day of the race Milkha Singh felt feverish and bilious and he was shivering at that time. He was not sure why was this happening with him… it was probably because he was unwell or the bitter past memories still haunted him. But he didn’t lose hopes and forced himself to get up and go to the stadium because losing in Pakistan would have been a horrible experience for him and for the whole nation but he also knew that determination and will-power can help to win any race in the life and that is the reason why he ignored his health condition and went straight to the stadium.

At the stadium the spectators were shouting…. “Long Live Pakistan..! Long Live Abdul Khaliq…!!” The pressure was too much to handle… and suddenly there was a pin drop silence at the stadium as the race was going to start in a moment and then the gun was fired and the race began. At the beginning both Abdul Khaliq and Milkha Singh ran shoulder to shoulder but later on Abdul Khaliq was left behind and Milkha Singh won the 200 metre race about 10 yards ahead of Khaliq. It was a wonderful day for India but horrible day for Pakistan. Abdul Khaliq started weeping pitifully on the ground but Milkha Singh consoled him that winning and losing are the part of the same game…! But Abdul Khaliq was very much humiliated as he was defeated before his countrymen..! Suddenly the loudspeaker announced, “Milkha Singh doesn’t run he flies…!! His victory will be recorded in Pakistan’s sports history and we confer the title of FLYING SIKH on him..!!” It was the President of Pakistan who coined the title the FLYING SIKH while congratulating Milkha Singh.

This is how with that historic victory Milkha Singh becomes THE FLYING SIKH and this title soon became synonymous with his name all over the world..!!!

Jogan More

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