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On Friday, 18th June at 11:30 pm, India lost one of the most iconic sprinter, Milkha Singh because of Post-Covid complications.
Given his old age and other undisclosed health conditions, Milkha Singh was admitted to PGIMER, Chandigarh and continued to fight for his life till last night when he took his last breath.
According to the reports, The Flying Sikh tested positive for COVID-19 on May 19, but was placed in home isolation after confirming that he was asymptomatic at his Chandigarh place.
However, on May 24, Milkha Singh was hospitalized in Fortis hospital’s ICU in Mohali owing to “COVID pneumonia.”
Along with the legendary sprinter, his wife Nirmal Kaur also got admitted on exposure to the coronavirus infection.
But after few days, Milkha Singh was discharged on family’s request while Nirmal Kaur remained admitted at the hospital
On 3rd June, owing to severe health issues, the legendary sprinter was referred to PGIMER, Chandigarh for adequate treatment.
His demise happened just 5 days after his wife Nirmal passed away from complications related to the Covid procedure.
Life before marathons
Milkha Singh’s forefathers were from Rajasthan, and he was born in Gobindpura in Muzaffargarh district, now in Pakistan.
Milkha Singh, the second youngest child of his parents, lost half of his 14 siblings due to ill health and a lack of medical treatment. His youth was spent in hardship, with his family sharing a two-room home with one room set aside for animals.
The rioting began at Milkha Singh’s village within two days after the partition of India in 1947. Milkha was sent to Multan by his father, where his older brother Makhan Singh was stationed. Milkha’s parents and two brothers were slaughtered by the rioters when Makhan and his army arrived at Kot Addu three days later.
Career of The Flying Sikh
After coming to India after the partition of 1947, Milkha Singh resided with his sister Ishar Kaur. He would take rations from government trains because he couldn’t afford to buy the items for the meal.
After that, he joined the Indian Army on his third attempt. Following which he qualified for the Melbourne Olympics by coming fourth at the 1956 National Games. He finished last in the qualifying match.
He came close to earning an individual Olympic gold in the 400m in Rome in 1960, placing fourth in a photo finish.
Milkha was one among the front-runners for the gold medal in Rome. It was perhaps natural, though, because he was recognized to have won 77 out of 80 events prior to the Olympics, including the 1958 Commonwealth Games gold in the 440-yard dash.
However, Milkha Singh’s Olympic gold was most likely lost due to a flaw. He had a tendency of glancing over his shoulder at his competitors when running races, and when he did so in Rome, it was crucial, despite the fact that he had led the race until the 200m mark.
Milkha Singh, and the three others who finished ahead of him, smashed the existing world mark of 45.9 seconds in Rome. According to a gadget used to mark the positions, he finished fourth in 45.6 seconds, but an unauthorized electronic timing at the games recorded him in 45.73 seconds.
Susumu Takona of Japan surpassed Milkha Singh’s Asian mark of 45.63 seconds, which had lasted for 26 years.
His sports achievements earned him praise from the Army, and he was awarded the Padma Shri by the Indian government in 1959. Also receiving the coveted Helms Award the same year.
As Pakistan’s second president, Gen.Ayub Khan, awarded the medals to the contestants, Singh was given a moniker that stuck with him till he took his last breath last night.
“Milkha, you came to Pakistan and did not run. You actually flew in Pakistan. Pakistan bestows upon you the title of the Flying Sikh.’”
Philanthropy of Milkha Singh
Milkha left the Army early and assisted the Punjab government as the Deputy Director of Sports. His journey was moulded into a Bollywood film, Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, starring Farhan Akhtar decades later in 2013.
Milkha was always willing to provide a helping hand to those in need, and in 2003 he established the Milkha Singh Charitable Trust.
Besides that, Manjit, the seven-year-old son of Havaldar Bikram Singh, who was killed in battle during the Kargil conflict in the Battle of Tiger Hill, was adopted by the Singh family in 1999.
Milkha Singh, 91, passed away on Friday night following a month-long fight with COVID-19. Nirmal Kaur, former national volleyball captain and Singh’s wife, died of the same illness.
If you want to read more about their sudden health collapse, check out our previous post on the same.
Various social media sites, particularly Twitter, have been flooded with tributes to his passing. On Twitter, a hashtag #RIPMilkhaSingh is trending as people share various posts with his name to express their tributes.
Also the players of the Indian Cricket Team apart from paying respects to the demise of the Flying Sikh, wore a black band at the ICC WTC 2021 Finals at Southampton in England to honour the departed soul.
Several prominent people, including the Prime Minister, have also expressed their sorrow over The Flying Sikh’s demise.
The Flying Sikh, Milkha Singh was cremated with full state honours on the instructions of the Chief Minister of Punjab in Chandigarh at around 5:00 pm.
The Sports Minister of India, Kiren Rijiju also reached the cremation ground in Chandigarh to pay his last tributes to Milkha Singh.
We at the Robust Story express our utmost respect for the departed soul and hope that our readers would do the same.
Also, we request our readers to get vaccinated as soon as possible and follow the COVID-19 protocols to avert the deadly infection.