Why was the Great Milkha Singh Called the Flying Sikh?

One of the greatest legends of India, Milkha Singh, passed away. Honouring his memory, let us take a look at how he got the title of Flying Sikh.

Milkha Singh - Finished fourth at Rome Olympics
Milkha Singh

The legendary Milkha Singh was one of the earliest sports stars for India. He originally migrated from Pakistan during the Partition and rose to fame when he joined the armed forces and started playing athletics.

Milkha Singh’s first international competition was the 1956 Melbourne Games. Although he was inexperienced and his time in the 200m and 400m was not enough to get him to the finals, his meeting with the 400m Charles Jenkins inspired him.

Singh Achieved Glory in 1958

Milkha Singh
Milkha Singh

In 1958 Singh set the 200m and 400m national records. He went on to win the gold medal at the 1958 Commonwealth Games in Cardiff. He also went on to win the gold medal in the 200m and 400m races at the Asian Games that year.

He had shot to fame because he was the only Indian male to win a gold at the track and field competitions in the Commonwealth Games and was now a national hero.

Milkha Singh received the title of Flying Sikh in 1960

Milkha Singh
Milkha Singh

In 1960, Pakistan’s President Ayub Khan invited Indian athletes for an Indo-Pak meet in Lahore. Singh was reluctant to go, as his memories in Pakistan had been brutal and hurtful.

However, on much insistence from Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, he went as a part of the Indian contingent. He was to face of against one of the best 200m sprinters of that time, Abdul Khaliq, and the pressure was high. On race day, Singh shined, and easily went on to beat Khaliq. Impressed with his performance, Ayub Khan, during the medal ceremony, gave Milkha Singh the nickname of ‘Flying Sikh’.

In the later years, he went on to win a gold medal at the 1962 Asian Games in Jakarta in the 400m and the 4x400m relay.

Milkha Singh unfortunately passed away on 18th June 2021 after he lost his battle with Covid. His exceptional talent and determination will always be remembered and his legacy will continue to live on in the heart of every Indian, all over the world.

Also read: Remembering Milkha Singh: Reliving the Flying Sikh’s historic 1960 Rome Olympics run when he fell short of Olympic glory by a whisker