Milkha Singh was born sometime in 1929, in Govindpura village of undivided India (now Pakistan). Milkha lost most of his family and 14 siblings to the communal riots that broke during Partition, and some accounts suggest that he witnessed the murders of his parents.
Young Milkha escaped to Delhi and found shelter at a refugee camp in Purana Quila and at a resettlement colony in Shahdara. Distraught with his terrible personal loss, he considered becoming a dacoit. However, his brother, Malkhan, persuaded him to join the army.
After multiple failed attempts, he was finally made it to the Indian Army in 1951, and was posted at the Electrical Mechanical Engineering Centre in Secunderabad. It was there that he was introduced to athletics. He finished sixth in the compulsory cross-country run for new recruits, and it kickstarted Milkha's athletics career.
At the 1956 Melbourne Olympics, he represented India in 200m and 400m events, but couldn't go past heats. There, he met Charles Jenkins, the American 400m champion, and the interaction fired him to come back stronger. Two years later, Milkha went on a record-breaking spree at the National Games in Cuttack. He set up national records in 200m and 400m events. The same year, he won gold medals in 200m and 400m events in the Asian Games, held in Tokyo. The legend of Milkha Singh was born.
Milkha continued his brilliant form to 1960 Rome Olympics, where he finished a famous fourth in 400m, and two years later at the 1962 Jakarta Asian Games, Milkha bagged two more top-finishes, in 400m and 4 X 400m relay races.
Updated Date: Aug 31, 2018 13:30:09 IST