Milkha Singh Biography, Career, Awards and Death

Milkha Singh, also known as the Flying Sikh, an Indian track and field athlete became the first Indian male to reach an Olympic athletics final when he finished fourth in the 400-meter race at the 1960 Olympic Games in Rome. Sania Mirza Biography, Age, Height, Husband, Family

Singh, who was orphaned after India’s division, migrated to India from Pakistan in 1947. Before entering the Indian army, he made a livelihood by working at a roadside diner. Singh discovered his sprinting ability while serving in the army.

He was eliminated at the preliminary heats for the 200-meter and 400-meter sprints at the 1956 Olympic Games in Melbourne, despite winning the national trials in both events. Milkha Singh died on June 18, 2021, in Chandigarh, India.


Milkha Singh was birthed on November 20, 1929, into a family of Rathore Rajput Sikhs. His birthplace was Govindpura, a hamlet in Punjab Province, British India, 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) from Muzaffargarh (now Muzaffargarh District, Pakistan).

He was one of 15 siblings, eight of whom died before India’s partition. During the Partition, his parents, a brother, and two sisters were slaughtered in the ensuing conflict between the locals and Islamic fanatics attempting to convert them, leaving him orphaned.

He was present at the assassinations. In 1947, Singh moved to Delhi, India, to escape the problems in Punjab, where massacres of Hindus and Sikhs continued. He resided for a brief period with the family of his married sister.

Love Life

Singh was a resident of Chandigarh in 2012. In Ceylon in 1955, he met Nirmal Saini, a former captain of the Indian women’s volleyball team. They married in 1962 and had three daughters and a son. In 1999, they adopted Havildar Bikram Singh’s seven-year-old son, who had perished in the Battle of Tiger Hill.

Formative Years

He was temporarily imprisoned in Tihar for riding a train without a ticket. Ishvar, his sister, sold some jewelry to secure his freedom. In Delhi, he spent time at a refugee camp in Purana Qila and a resettlement community in Shahdara.

Singh felt dissatisfied with his existence and pondered becoming a thief, but was convinced to join the Indian Army by one of his brothers, Malkhan. He got admitted on his fourth attempt, in 1951, and was exposed to sports while stationed at the Electrical Mechanical Engineering Centre in Secunderabad.

He used to run the 10 km route to and from school as a youngster, and he was chosen by the army for special athletic training after placing sixth in a mandatory cross-country race for recruits. Singh has said that the army introduced him to athletics, adding, “I came from a distant hamlet, I didn’t know what running was, or the Olympics.”

A Career Abroad

  • Singh competed for India in the 200m and 400m races at the 1956 Melbourne Olympic Games. Due to his inexperience, he did not get past the heat stages, but a meeting with the eventual 400m winner at those Games, Charles Jenkins, motivated him and gave him information about training techniques.
  • Singh established records in the 200m and 400m in the National Games of India in Cuttack in 1958, and he also won gold medals in the same events at the Asian Games.
  • At the 1958 British Empire and Commonwealth Games, he won a gold medal in the 400m (440 yards at the time) with a time of 46.6 seconds.
  • This latter feat earned him the first gold medal from independent India in the Commonwealth Games.  Milkha was the sole Indian male to win an individual athletics gold medal at the Games before Vikas Gowda in 2014.
  • Jawaharlal Nehru convinced Singh to brush aside his recollections of the Partition era to compete effectively against Abdul Khaliq in Pakistan in 1960 when a post-race statement by then-General Ayub Khan earned him the moniker “The Flying Sikh.” According to some accounts, he established a world mark of 45.8 seconds in France soon before the Rome Olympics the following year, however, the official report of the Games shows the record holder as Lou Jones, who ran 45.2 seconds in Los Angeles in 1956.
  • He finished fourth in a close-run final race in the 400m division at those Olympics. Except for Otis Davis, Singh had beaten all of the major rivals, and a medal was expected due to his strong form. He made a mistake when he was leading the race at 250m, slowing down in the notion that his pace could not be continued and looked about at his other rivals. Singh says that these mistakes cost him a medal opportunity and are his “worst memory.” Davis, Carl Kaufmann, and Malcolm Spence all passed him, resulting in a photo finish. Kiara Advani Net Worth 2022, Income, Salary, Age, Bio
  • Davis and Kaufman achieved a world record of 44.9 seconds, while Spence and Singh fell short of the pre-Games Olympic record of 45.9 seconds set in 1952 by George Rhoden and Herb McKenley speeds of 45.5 and 45.6 seconds, respectively.
  • In 2006, The Age said that “Milkha Singh is the first Indian athlete to have set an Olympic track record. Unfortunately, he was the fourth guy in the same race to achieve so “However, according to the official Olympic report, Davis had already equaled the Rhoden/McKenley Olympic record in the quarter-finals and surpassed it in the semi-finals with a time of 45.5 seconds.


  • Singh’s autobiography, The Race of My Life, was co-written by Singh and his daughter, Sonia Sanwalka. It was released in 2013.
  • Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, a 2013 biographical film based on Singh’s life, was inspired by the novel. Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra directed the film, which stars Farhan Akhtar in the titular character and Sonam Kapoor, Meesha Shafi, and Divya Dutta in the female major parts. The film received widespread recognition in India, where it won several prizes, including the National Film Award for Best Popular Film Providing Wholesome Entertainment at the National Film Honors and five awards at the International Indian Film Academy Awards in 2014.
  • The film grossed more than 100 crores. Singh sold the film rights for one rupee with the provision that a portion of the revenues is donated to the Milkha Singh Charitable Trust. The Trust was established in 2003 to aid impoverished and disadvantaged athletes. It represents Singh in a sprinting stance during his winning run at the Commonwealth Games in 1958. Neeraj Chopra, who won India’s first track and field gold medal at the 2020 Olympics, dedicated his achievement to Singh.


After a month-long struggle with the virus, he died on Friday (18 June 2021) night from post-COVID-19 complications. He tested positive for the virus on May 20 and was taken to a private hospital in Mohali on May 24.

He was released on May 30 before being admitted to the COVID unit at Nehru Hospital Extension. Nirmal Kaur, a former India volleyball captain, also died as a result of COVID-19. He was eventually tested negative and sent to the medical ICU.

On an evening, his condition deteriorated and problems such as fever and low oxygen saturation levels arose. On June 18, he breathed his last breath at PGIMER.


  • Following his achievement in 1958, Singh was given the Padma Shri, India’s fourth-highest civilian honor. In 2001, he declined the Indian government’s offer of the Arjuna Award, claiming that it was designed to recognize young athletes rather than adults like him.
  • At the second edition of the Indian Sports Honours, he received the lifetime achievement award.


  • Milkha Singh lived up to his name by winning the 400m championship in the 1958 Asiad in Tokyo and successfully defending it in 1962 in Jakarta.
  • Since capturing the 440-yard championship at the 1958 Commonwealth Games in Cardiff, Milkha Singh has been the only winner in athletics.
  • Despite coming fourth in the 400m event, Milkha Singh remains the only Indian athlete to have broken an Olympic track record.
  • 1958 was a very memorable year for Indian athletes. Milkha Singh lit up the track in Cuttack by capturing gold in both the 200m and 400m events.

Unfamiliar Facts

  • He was appointed as the Punjab Ministry of Education’s Director of Sports.
  • Milkha is also the subject of a wax statue sculpted by Madame Tussauds in Chandigarh. It represents Singh in a sprinting stance during his winning run at the Commonwealth Games in 1958.
  • His medals were given to the country as a gift. The medals were initially displayed in the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in New Delhi but were subsequently relocated to a sports museum in Patiala.
  • Rahul Bose held a charity auction in 2012, and Singh donated the pair of Adidas sneakers he used in the 1960 400m final.


  • Milkha Singh won a gold medal in the 200 m at the 1958 Asian Games.
  • Milkha Singh won a gold medal in the 400 m at the 1958 Asian Games.
  • Milkha Singh won a gold medal in the 440 Yards at the 1958 Commonwealth Games.
  • Milkha Singh won a gold medal in the 400 m at the 1962 Asian Games.
  • Milkha Singh won a gold medal in the 4×400 m relay at the 1962 Asian Games.
  • Milkha Singh won a silver medal in the 400 m at the 1964 Calcutta National Games.

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