It was very sad to read that Covid-19 claimed another legend. Every day a few thousands of people are dying in India, and every other day we hear of someone in the public eye succumbing to the disease. These people would have got the best of treatment, so it leaves us, common people, with a sense of helplessness. For the immediate family it must be very sorrowful to lose both Milkha Singh and Nirmal Kaur in the span of a few days.
In my hunt for autographs, and despite my participation in Masters Athletics (in pre-Covid times, I was running 100, 200 & 400m) and staying briefly in Chandigarh (where Milkha Singh was living), I never got to meet him. My mother did though, during her school days.
Bangalore was host to a National Athletics meet in July 1962, and as one can imagine, those who had even a little interest in sports thronged to see the Flying Sikh who had missed out on the bronze medal at the Rome Olympics a couple of years before that.
Read more about Rome 1960: HOW A FRACTION OF A SECOND LEFT MILKHA SINGH SHORT OF OLYMPIC GLORY
My mom, then in school, was one of the enthusiasts who went to the stadium to meet Milkha Singh and she managed to get his autograph. Mom has written Milkha Singh’s best timings and also his date of birth – as 1935. It seems his records have different dates of birth – 1935, 1932 and 1929. 1929 is what is in the records in Govindapur, British India (now in Pakistan), where he was born – which makes him 91 at the time of death.
Our athletic social media groups are full of condolence messages. Many of my athlete friends have met Milkha Singh at different events. I saved the different pictures that have been doing the rounds. No doubt, Milkha Singh will live on forever.