Legendary athlete Milkha Singh dies after post-Covid complications
There are not many athletes for whom it becomes impossible to sum up their journey with words. Usually, people find a way and come up with a glorious introduction that aptly gives the glimpse of their careers but for Indians, the name Milkha Singh is synonymous to honor and no introduction can live up to the place Milkha Singh in India’s history.
The celebrated athlete died on Saturday owing to post Covid-19 complications. He was detected positive for covid nearly a month ago and recovered following a hefty treatment and returned home. But soon, post covid symptoms were visible and he succumbed to the complications at 91.
The most famous and respectable memory of the athlete is of 1960 Rome Olympics where he missed out on a bronze medal by 0.1 seconds. For those who may not be aware of the importance that medals will have to travel back to the reports or theories available online to materialise the extent of impact that medal would have. But for now, knowing that if Milkha Singh could have grabbed the medal, the field event and Athletics In India would not be behind others.
But that does not mean that he is to be blamed in any way and given the conditions and situation at that time, him even being selected for the Olympics was a huge deal in itself. Singh came from an army background so all the experience he had was due to the senior officials involved in his development. He never had any sort of formal touch to his feets and ran naked on feet most of his life.
Things changed at the international circuit. He was asked to carry sports gear which was available to only a few at that time. Still, him managing to crack the Olympic void of the Indian contingent by ranking fourth with the world’s best remains one of the most legendary moments of the Indian sports ecosystem.
It will not be wrong to say that till date, he remains to be the most successful independent athlete of the country. In fact, it is to be noted that the name ‘flying sikh’ was given to him by a Pakistani general as he was so impressed by the talent of the youngster. It was then that India could find a place for itself on the world map.
Merely five days ago, Milkha Singh’s wife had lost her battle to covid at a Mohali Hospital and despite fighting the tough battle, Singh succumbed to the complications today. The duo are survived by a 14-time international winner and golfer son Jeev Milkha Singh, daughter Mona Singh, Sonial Singh and Aleeza Grover.
Even today when we recall the heroics that the athlete showed on the field, the best moment remains to be the Asuan Games win, which was also his most successful event in history. His head to head with Pakistan’s Abdul Khaliq also was very memorable for his fans who used to lit up the stadium whenever the duo competed.
Another 400 m event garnered a lot of attention. The athlete had won a gold at the then British Empire and Commonwealth Games in Cardiff, UK and the sheer level of competition had everyone on their feet. He won the race by crossing South Africa’s Malcom Spence and broke the world record by clocking 46.6 seconds and made history that made it to the books and hearts of all the Indians.
Even after retiring, the sportsman spent most of his life playing golf and teaching his children. There is no one better who could teach us how to jump over any obstacle and learn to live with honor other than Milkha Singh.