The legendary Indian sprinter Milkha Singh has passed away at the age of 91 after months of fighting Covid-19. Known as the “Flying Sikh”, Singh was one of the most successful track and field athletes in India.
He won four gold medals at the Asian Games and became the first Indian Commonwealth Games champion in 1958. The following year, Singh was awarded the Padma Shri, one of the highest civil awards in India. In the years 1956, 1960 and 1964 Singh represented India at the Olympic Games. At the Olympic Games in Rome in 1960, Singh lost the 400-meter race in the photo finish. He finished fourth with a time of 45.73 seconds, an Indian national record that has been in place for 40 years. But the regret of not having won an Olympic medal always haunted him.
Milkha Singh was born in 1929 in Govindpura, a small village now in Pakistan, and grew up in what was then British India. As a teenager in 1947, he lost his parents to a stormy partition that gave birth to the two neighboring sovereign countries. He fled to India by train and hid under the seats of the ladies’ carriage. In New Delhi he joined the Indian Army, where he began his racing career.
His life story inspired a 2013 Bollywood film called “Bhaag Milkha Bhaag”.
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