Milkha Singh also known as The Flying Sikh was born on October 17, 1935, Lyallpur [now Faisalabad], Pakistan. He died on June 18, 2021, Chandigarh, India. He was Indian track-and-field athlete who became the first Indian male to achieve the final of an Olympic athletics event when he positioned fourth in the 400-metre race at the 1960 Olympic Games in Rome.
Independent India’s first individual sports star, Milkha Singh conquered Indian track and field for over a decade with his haste and spirit, creating various records and winning multiple medals in his career.
Representing India at the 1956 Olympics in Melbourne, the 1960 Olympics in Rome and the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo, Milkha Singh continued to be the greatest Olympian from India for decades with his remarkable displays.
Orphaned during the partition of India, Singh shifted to India from Pakistan in 1947. He earned living by working in a roadside restaurant before joining the Indian army. It was in the army that Singh recognized his capabilities as a sprinter. After winning the national trials in the 200-metre and 400-metre sprints, he was rejected during the preliminary heats for those events at the 1956 Olympic Games in Melbourne.
At the 1958 Asian Games, Singh won the 200-metre and 400-metre races. Afterwards, that year he won the 400-metre gold at the Commonwealth Games, which was India’s first athletics gold in the history of the Games. He closely lost the bronze medal in the 400 metres at the 1960 Olympic Games in Rome, missing out on third place in a photo finish. Singh preserved his 400-metre gold at the 1962 Asian Games and also took another gold as part of India’s 4 × 400-metre relay team. He made a final Olympic appearance at the 1964 Tokyo Games as part of the national 4 × 400 team that botched to advance past preliminary heats.
Singh was awarded the Padma Shri (one of India’s highest civilian honours) in 1959. After his retirement he performed the role of director of sports in Punjab. Singh’s autobiography, The Race of My Life (cowritten with his daughter Sonia Sanwalka), was published in 2013.
Milkha Singh, a track star who enthused generations of Indians with his accomplishments on an international stage and a convincing life story in which he once raced trains for entertainment and literally had to run for his life as his father, beaten by crowd, lay dying, died on June 18 in Chandigarh. His age was uncertain, but he was either in his late 80s or his early 90s. Singh overcame great hardship to become a sports hero
The Flying Sikh died on June 18, 2021 in Chandigarh, India. His family said the reason was problems of Covid-19. He had tested positive for the coronavirus on May 20 and had been in and out of the hospital for a month. His death came just five days after that of Nirmal Kaur, his wife of 58 years and a sportswoman in her own right. He was cremated with state honors, and the state of Punjab observed a day of grief.