Milkha SINGH

India IND

Athletics

  • Games participations
    3
  • First Olympic Games
    Melbourne 1956
  • Year of Birth
    1935
Olympic Results

Biography

Milkha SINGH

Independent India’s first individual sports star, the late great Milkha Singh dominated Indian track and field for over a decade with his speed and spirit, creating multiple records and winning numerous 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 remains one of India’s greatest athletes.

Born on 20 November 1929 into a Sikh family in Govindpura, which is now a part of Pakistan, Milkha Singh was introduced to the sport only after he had fled to India post the partition and joined the Indian Army.

It was there that he sharpened his running skills. After he finished sixth in a cross-country race that had around 400 more soldiers running, he was handpicked for further training. That laid the foundation for what would be an impressive career.

His first Olympic Games came at Melbourne 1956, where an inexperienced Milkha Singh didn’t progress beyond the heat stages in either the 200m or 400m, but a meeting with champion Charles Jenkins proved to be the source of much inspiration.

A resolute Milkha Singh left Melbourne determined to, in his words, turn himself into “a running machine”.

That desire resulted in Milkha Singh becoming the first gold medallist at the Commonwealth Games from independent India in 1958, remaining the only Indian male to have an individual athletics Commonwealth Games gold for 56 years before discus thrower Vikas Gowda emulated him in 2014.

By the time of the Rome 1960 Olympics, Milkha Singh was widely known as ‘the Flying Sikh’ and came within a photo finish of reaching the heights of an Olympic podium.

Running in the 400m, Milkha Singh was leading till the 200m mark when he decided to ease off, a mistake that allowed others to overtake him. The race had seen numerous records being broken and eventually needed a photo finish to declare the result.

While United States of America’s Otis Davis had won the race after leading Germany’s Carl Kaufmann by one-hundredth of a second, Milkha Singh had finished fourth with a timing of 45.73s - a national record that stood for 40 years.

Tokyo 1964 was the swansong for Milka Singh, as he led the Indian team in the 4x400m relay before hanging up his running shoes.

Years later, Milkha Singh - with help from his daughter Sonia Sanwalka - would share memories from his incredible career in his autobiography titled ‘The Race of My Life’, published in July 2013.

The book was later turned into a biopic - Bhaag Milkha Bhaag - which was directed by Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra and had actor Farhan Akhtar playing Milkha Singh.

After a bout of COVID-19, the legendary runner passed away due to health complications in June 2021 but his legacy will continue to live on and provide inspiration to many a future athlete.

Olympic Results

More results
Olympic Results
Results Event Sport

Tokyo 1964

#4 h1 r1/2
4 x 400 metres Relay
4 x 400 metres Relay Athletics
Olympic Results
Results Event Sport

Rome 1960

#4
400 metres
400 metres Athletics
Olympic Results
Results Event Sport

Melbourne 1956

#4 h2 r1/4
200 metres
200 metres Athletics
#4 h5 r1/4
400 metres
400 metres Athletics