The story of the race in Pakistan after which Milkha Singh came to be called ‘Flying Sikh’

Milkha Singh, who hoisted India’s flag in athletics, said goodbye to the world. India’s great sprinter Milkha Singh died on Friday after battling corona infection for a month. Padmashree Milkha Singh was 91 years old, he is survived by his son golfer Jeev Milkha Singh and three daughters. Earlier, his wife and former Indian volleyball team captain Nirmal Kaur also died due to corona infection.

Milkha Singh was popularly known as ‘Flying Sikh’. The story behind his name is very interesting. He disclosed this in an interview given to India Today in 2016. Actually, in 1960, Milkha was invited to participate in the International Athlete Competition of Pakistan. Milkha was unable to forget the sorrow of partition of the country, so he did not want to go to Pakistan. On the persuasion of the then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, he agreed to go to Pakistan. Abdul Khaliq used to speak at that time in Pakistan and he was the fastest runner there.

During the competition, about 60000 Pakistani fans were cheering Abdul Khaliq, but Khaliq could not stand in front of Milkha’s speed. After Milkha’s victory, the then President of Pakistan Field Marshal Ayub Khan named him ‘Flying Sikh’. And since then he came under the name of Flying Sikh.

Milkha Singh was born on 20 November 1929 in Govindpura (now Pakistan) in a farmer family. But he was one of the total 15 children of his parents. His family became a victim of the tragedy of Partition, during which eight siblings were also killed along with his parents. Milkha Singh, who saw this horrifying scene, reached Delhi hiding in the female bogie of the train from Pakistan.

‘When I got bread, I started thinking about the country’
Recalling his sad days in the refugee camps of Delhi after the partition of the country, Milkha had said, ‘How can one think about the country when the stomach is empty? When I got the bread, I started thinking about the country. The anger caused by hunger finally led him to his destination. He had said, ‘Will you ever forget when your parents were killed in front of your eyes…Never.’

Milkha, a four-time Asian Games gold medalist, had also won the yellow medal at the 1958 Commonwealth Games. His best performance, however, was at the 1960 Rome Olympics, in which he finished fourth in the 400 m final. He also represented India in 1956 and 1964 Olympics. He was awarded the Padma Shri in 1959.

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