India's Flying Sikh Milkha Singh turns 90 today. The Commonwealth and Asian Games winner not only has won several accolades on the track but also captured many hearts due to this heart-wrenching story.
Born in Govindpura, Punjab (present-day Pakistan), Singh lost his parents during the violence that engulfed while the partition of India. He was forced to live in refugee camps, before he moved to his sister in Delhi.
It was Singh's brother that made him join the Indian Army. Singh began running since then and never looked behind, winning India laurels at the International stage.
Here are some of the amusing facts that you wouldn't know about Milkha Singh:
1. Due to the harrowing and traumatic experience of partition in his childhood, Milkha was inclined to become a dacoit.
2. After Milkha Singh joined the Army as a technical jawan, his first salary was Rs 39 and 8 anna.
3. Milkha was once sent to Tihar jail for travelling without a ticket by train. He was bailed after his sister sold off her jewellery.
4. His fourth place time of 45.73 the 400 m at the 1960 Rome Olympics became the national record and stood for almost 40 long years.
5. Pakistan's General Ayub Khan bestowed the title ‘Flying Sikh of India’ to Milkha Singh after his brilliant performance at the Asian Games.
6. The then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru declared a holiday for a day to reward him for making the country proud, after Mikha asked for it.
7. Milkha Singh donated all his medals and sporting treasures to the country, and are now part of the Sports Museum in Patiala.
8. The winner of India's first Commonwealth gold, Milkha, declined government's Arjuna Award in 2001 saying “it came 40 years too late”.
9. In 1999, Milkha adopted the 7-year-old son of Martyr Bikram Singh who fought in the Kargil War.