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His passing a loss to our household, to Pakistan: Milkha Singh’s rival’s son

(Written by Mohammad Ejaz)

With the demise of Milkha Singhji, the world has misplaced a sensible athlete. Legendary sportspersons are like household jewels for his or her nations and, contemplating the shared historical past of our nations, that is a loss for each India and Pakistan.

Rivals on the observe, my father and Milkhaji had a lot in widespread.

Growing up in Rawalpindi’s Jand Awan village, my father, too, rose from poverty to develop into a world-class athlete. Like Milkha Sir, he, too, joined the military and it was military coaching, coupled along with his ardour for working, that helped my father develop into the quickest man in Asia from 1956 to 1960.

My father, too, confronted disappointment on the Olympics, when he completed fourth in each the 100 m and 200 m semi-finals on the 1956 Melbourne Games (Milkha Singh completed fourth within the 400-m closing on the 1960 Rome Olympics).

I first spoke to Milkhaji in 2009. His secretary had known as concerning the rights to my father’s portrayal within the biopic Bhaag Mikha Bhaag. He quickly got here on the road and once I instructed him that he was a nice athlete, he mentioned one thing I nonetheless bear in mind. “Putt, tera bapu boht wadda athlete tha (Son, your father was a great athlete). I became Flying Sikh upon defeating him. My fame is due to him.”

Only a man with a golden coronary heart can say such a factor. He made it a level to speak to my mom. Before hanging up, he instructed me, “Mothers are a form of God and all of us should take care of them as much as we can.”
My father was a man of few phrases. He hardly spoke about his loss within the well-known 200-m race towards Milkhaji in 1960 at an India-Pakistan athletic meet in Lahore. (It was after this occasion that then Pak President General Ayub Khan walked up to Milkha Singh and known as him the Flying Sikh.)

I’ve heard a lot about my father’s profession from his teammate Karamat Hussain and my uncle Abdul Malik, additionally an Olympian. By 1960, my father’s profession was on the decline and but he was nonetheless a grasp of 100 and 200-m races. They say my father went silent after that 200-m race.

A day after that race, my father competed within the 4×100 m relay race. He and Milkhaji have been to run the final leg for his or her respective nations. The story goes that my father obtained the baton earlier than Milkhaji however, as my uncle instructed me, he waited for Milkhaji to come shut. Once he was subsequent to him, he mentioned, “Milkha sahib, ab zor lagana (Milkha sahib, give it your all now)”.

The Pakistani workforce received and, as per the previous athletes, my father regained his glory. That was the form of rivalry that they had. My father by no means confirmed anger on the sector. Once the races have been achieved, he all the time handled his opponents with respect.

My household will all the time be in debt to Milkhaji for a nice gesture of his. My father was a prisoner of conflict after the Bangladesh conflict and was jailed in Meerut. Milkhaji went to meet my father and instructed the jail officers to take further care of him.

When I requested him about that assembly, Milkhaji confirmed it and even invited me to go to India. Alas, our want to meet the legend remained unfulfilled.
Milkhaji was given the title of “Flying Sikh” by General Ayub Khan however not many know that my father was given the title of “Flying Bird of Asia” by the then Indian Prime Minister Jawahar Lal Nehru who was Chief Guest in the course of the 1954 Asian Games in Manila. This occurred after my father received the 100-m title with Nehru watching.

The film Bhaag Milkha Bhaagbrought the highlight on my father once more. While the Pakistan authorities honoured my father in each attainable method, the youthful era didn’t know a lot about him. That film helped my father regain the misplaced glory.

People have been asking about his feat on the Asian Games, the 1956 Indo-Pak meet, and the Melbourne Olympics. There have been some who known as my father ‘the Usain Bolt of the 1950s’. It felt good to see the youthful era study my father.
Earlier this month, Pakistan and our household misplaced my uncle Abdul Malik, a 1960 Olympian, and now the information of Milkhaji’s passing is like one other loss for our household and nation.

My mom Valayat Begum sends her condolences to Milkha’s household and to the individuals of India. Our household stands with them.

(As instructed to Nitin Sharma)

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