Milkha Singh is a former Indian track and field sprinter who was the first Indian male athlete to win an individual athletics gold medal at a Commonwealth Games. Milkha Singh was also awarded the Padma Shri Award by the President of India in 1959 for his achievements in sports. Fondly called ‘The Flying Sikh’—a title bequeathed to him by the former President of Pakistan, General Ayub Khan—he is highly respected for his sporting achievements. He has made his motherland proud by winning several Gold medals in international sporting events like the Commonwealth Games and Asian Games. He had entered the 400m race at the 1960 Olympic Games as one of the favourites.H e had set an Indian national record for 400m. Milkha Singh’s story is one of hope and inspiration. As a teenager, he witnessed the massacre of his whole family in front of his eyes. Orphaned and heartbroken he worked up his way through life, seeking solace in the running.
He subsequently became Director of Sports in the Punjab Ministry of Education, from which post he had retired by 1998. All of Singh's medals have been donated to the nation. They were displayed at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in New Delhi but later moved to a sports museum in Patiala, where a pair of running shoes that he wore in Rome are also displayed. In 2012, he donated the Adidas shoes that he had worn in the 1960 400m final to a charity auction organised by actor Rahul Bose.
Singh and his daughter, Sonia Sanwalka, co-wrote his autobiography, titled The Race of My Life (2013). The book inspired Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, a 2013 biographical film of Singh's life. Singh sold the movie rights for one rupee but inserted a clause stating that a share of the profits would be given to the Milkha Singh Charitable Trust. The Trust was founded in 2003 with the aim of assisting poor and needy sportspeople.
Milkha Singh now shares his story widely through his motivational talks.