M A I N   N E W S

Milkha reveals how he got ‘Flying Sikh’ tag
“You didn’t run, you flew,” said the then Pak President Ayub Khan
Anuja Jaiswal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 18
While everyone knows who the Flying Sikh is, many wouldn’t be aware that the veteran Olympian, Milkha Singh, got this name in Pakistan in 1960 at a track event that he never wanted to contest.

“I didn’t want to go to Pakistan to attend the games as my parents were killed there during riots after the Partition. However, I was persuaded by the then Prime Minister Jawahar Lal Nehru to go,” said the veteran athlete, adding that it was there he got the title of Flying Sikh after he defeated the Pakistan champion Abdul Khaliq in the 200-metre race.

Addressing a gathering here today after receiving the Award of Excellence from the Editor-in-Chief of The Tribune, Raj Chengappa, at a function organised by the Rotary District 3080, an emotional Milkha Singh said: “Nehruji told me to bury the past and go to Pakistan”. “The then PM felt that since Pakistan had extended an invitation for the event in a spirit of friendship, it was imperative that I represented the nation,” said Milkha.

Recalling his journey, he said: “I went in a jeep decked up with flowers. Once we crossed the Wagah border and began our 20-km ride to Lahore, we saw people lined up on either side of the road to cheer us”.

About the race, Milkha recounted that some Urdu paper had then given a headline, 'Khaliq ki takkar Milkha se- Pakistan vs India'. “On the day of the race, I was told that around 60,000 persons had assembled at the Lahore stadium, including almost 20,000 burqa-clad women. Before the race began, the mullahs (priests) came to conduct prayers and bless Khaliq”, Milkha said. “I stopped one of them and sought blessings from him by saying that I am too a man of God (khuda ka banda),” he added.

He said when the race began Khaliq took an initial lead as he was a 100m sprinter. My strength was my stamina and I overtook him after 150 yards and won the race by around seven yards”, he said, adding that his timing was 20.7 sec, a new world record.

He said after the race, General Ayub (the then Pakistan President) came up to him and said: “Milkha you did not run, you flew.” “And that’s how I got my name”, he told the audience.

A Padma Shri recipient, Milka Singh, (his son Jeev Milkha Singh is too a Padma Shri) regretted that no Indian athlete had yet won a gold in Olympics in the 400m event in which he missed the bronze by a whisker in the Rome Olympics. “I’m waiting for an Indian to get a gold in athletics in Olympics and make the country proud. A gold in athletics can alone make me feel happy”, he said.

Milkha said sports were never considered as a career in his younger days. “The mindset was different then. But now parents must let their children grow, flourish and support them in their endeavours,” he said. For budding athletes, the Flying Sikh has a message: “Hard work alone can bring success.”





HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Letters | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |