Milkha Singh - India’s Flying Sikh

Known as the Flying Sikh, Padma Shree Milkha Singh was an Indian field sprinter and track runner. He is the only athlete to win a gold medal in the 400 metres race at the Commonwealth Games and the Asian Games. Milkha Singh set a national record in the 1960 Olympics by winning fourth place in the 400m race in 45.73 seconds. This record remained for almost 40 years.

Students preparing for competitive exams should read about Milkha Singh and his achievements for in-depth knowledge.

The following article gives detailed information on Milkha Singh to help IAS and UPSC 2022 aspirants prepare.

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Who is Milkha Singh?

Milkha Singh was born in 1929 in Gobindpura village in the Muzaffargarh district of Pakistan. He spent most of his childhood in poverty. Singh lost his 14 siblings to poverty, poor health and lack of medical attention.

During the 1947 partition, he became an orphan and moved to India. He earned his living by working in a roadside restaurant before joining the army in 1951.

During his military training, he realised his sprinting abilities. Hawaldar Gurudev Singh in 1951 persuaded him to run a cross-country race, as a part of military training.

He practised hard and came to the limelight during the National Games at Patiala in 1956. He broke the 200 m and 400 m records in the National Games at Cuttack in 1958.

He married Nirmal Kaur, a former captain of the Indian Volleyball team, on 5th May 1963, at Pathankot. The couple has three daughters Aleeza Grover, Dr Mona Singh, Sonia Sanwalka, and a son Jeev Milkha Singh.

The veteran athlete succumbed to death on 18th June 2021 from COVID related complications at 91.

Individuals willing to crack the UPSC exam can check the following section discussing Milkha Singh Olympics record and other achievements for better preparation.

Other UPSC related links:

List of Sports Terms for General Awareness

National Sports Day [August 29]

List of Sports Cups and Trophies

List of Countries and their National Games

Khelo India Programme

Fantasy Sports In India

What are the Notable Achievements of Milkha Singh?

The following table explains the achievements of Padma Shree Milkha Singh.




200 m

1958 Asian Games


400 m

1958 Asian Games


440 yards

1958 Asian Games


400 m

1962 Asian Games


4×400 m relay

1962 Asian Games


400 m

1964 Calcutta National Games


Apart from these achievements, in 1960, he was persuaded by then Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru to run against Abdul Khaliq in Pakistan, whom he defeated. He then received the title of “the Flying Sikh” by General Ayub.

Milkha Singh’s Later Life

Here are some details on the achievements of this notable personality in his later life.

  • Milkha Singh was promoted to a junior commissioned officer after his success in the 1958 Asian Games.
  • He became the Director of Sports in the Punjab Ministry of Education.
  • Milkha Singh’s medals were displayed at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in New Delhi, but later shifted to a sports museum in Patiala.
  • He donated a pair of Adidas shoes worn on the 400m final in 1960 to a charity auction in 2012.
  • Milkha Singh’s wax statue, created at Madame Tussauds in London, was unveiled in September 2017 in Chandigarh.
  • ‘Bhaag Milkha Bhaag’, directed by Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra and starring Farhan Akhtar and Sonam Kapoor, portrayed Milkha Singh’s biography.

Individuals preparing for UPSC Prelims and IAS exam can read his autobiography, ‘The Race of My Life’ to learn about Milkha Singh. He co-wrote the book with his daughter Sonia Sanwalka in 2013.

Hopefully, this article on Milkha Singh will help competitive exam aspirants gain valuable data for preparation. IAS exam aspirants can also check educational portals for a detailed guide on the said topic.

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Frequently Asked Questions


Is Jeev Milkha Singh related to Padma Shri Milkha Singh?

Yes, star Indian golfer Jeev Milkha Singh is the son of Padma Shri Milkha Singh.


Which event is considered the biggest achievement in Milkha Singh’s career?

Milkha Singh won a gold medal by clocking 46.6 seconds, and created a national record in the 1958 Commonwealth Games.


Did Milkha Singh win in the Tokyo Asian Games?

Yes, he won a gold medal in the Tokyo Asian Games in the 200 m category and defeated Abdul Khaliq.


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