New Delhi: There are very few athletes in the world who have been conferred with a nickname for their amazing talent and that nickname became their identity. Something similar happened with the great Indian sprinter Padmashree Milkha Singh.
Milkha Singh, who retired from the rank of Captain in the Indian Army, is also famous as Flying Sikh all over the world. The title of Flying Sikh was given to Milkha Singh by Field Marshal Ayub Khan, the former President of Pakistan, the story behind which is very interesting.
Milkha Singh himself has a birth relation with Pakistan. He was born in the British era at the time of at the place which is now on the map of Pakistan. Milkha Singh was born on November 20, 1929 in Govindpur, 10 km from the city of Muzaffargarh in the Punjab province of British India. Now this area is located in the Muzaffargarh district of Pakistan.
On the late night of Friday, June 18, 2021, Milkha Singh said goodbye to this world. He got the title of Flying Sikh in 1960 from the then President of Pakistan Field Marshal Ayub Khan. The surprising thing is that initially Milkha Singh was not ready to go to Pakistan, but he later adopted the title of Flying Sikh given by the then President of Pakistan.
Milkha Singh’s defeat in the men’s 400 metres final at the 1960 Olympic Games will be remembered by everyone. He finished fourth in the 400m race and lost to a player he had defeated two years earlier to win the gold medal at the Asian Games.
Frustrated by this defeat and annoyed since the time of Partition with Pakistan, Milkha Singh had refused to participate in the International Athlete Competition in Pakistan. The governments of India and Pakistan wanted friendship, but Milkha Singh was not ready.
In fact, Milkha Singh could not forget the gory incidents which happened during the Partition of the two countries, when his family was murdered in Pakistan. This was the reason why he had turned down the invitation from Pakistan, but later the then Prime Minister of the country, Jawaharlal Nehru, explained to him that it was necessary to maintain friendly relations with the neighboring countries. In such a situation, he should participate in the International Athlete Competition, because they are the star players of the country.
He changed his mind for the sake of the country and went to Pakistan to participate in the International Athlete Competition in Pakistan, where Milkha Singh faced Pakistan’s renowned sprinter Abdul Khaliq. Khaliq was also a strong sprinter and he had also won the gold medal in the Asian Games, but Milkha created history by defeating Abdul Khaliq at his home ground. After this victory, he got the title of Flying Sikh.
In fact, after defeating Abdul Khaliq, the then President of Pakistan Field Marshal Ayub Khan praised Milkha Singh and honored him with the title of ‘Flying Sikh’.
“Today you have not run, but you have flown. That is why we bestow you with the title of ‘Flying Sikh’.” Ayub Khan had told Milkha Singh.
Since then Milkha Singh came to be known as ‘Flying Sikh’ all over the world.