(Image Credits: @PFTofIndia/@JeevMilkhaSingh/Twitter
India witnessed an end of an era when legendary sprinter Milkha Singh passed away on Friday after a month-long battle with COVID-19. Milkha Singh tested negative for COVID-19, however, his health deteriorated due to post COVID complications. The Padma Shri awardee was 91 and is survived by his golfer son Jeev Milkha Singh and three daughters. Jeev Milkha Singh on the occasion of Father's Day remembered his late father and wrote an emotional note on his Twitter handle.
On Sunday, 49-year-old Jeev said Father's Day was "another sad reminder of what I've lost". Milkha Singh was cremated in Chandigarh on Saturday evening with full state honours with Jeev lighting the pyre. Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju, Punjab Governor and Chandigarh Administrator VP Singh Badnore, Punjab Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal and Haryana's Sports Minister Sandeep Singh were among the dignitaries who attended the last rites.
Jeev Milkha Singh in his emotional note wrote that Milkha Singh was not only his father, but his best friend, his guide and mentor. "Dad was much more than my father - he was my best friend, my guide, my mentor," Jeev, who was in Dubai when the legendary sprinter tested positive for COVID-19 and reached here in a couple of days to be with him, said in a tweet.
"I hope I've the same resilience & inner strength to overcome all odds. I really need it now. And I will need it for the rest of my life," he added.
The family's tragedy was compounded by the loss of Milkha Singh's wife and former national volleyball captain Nirmal Kaur just five days before the legendary sprinter's death. Nirmal had also been battling COVID-19. "Somehow, I don't remember much of Dad's funeral procession, but one sight I will never forget. A military van coming to a stop and these soldiers getting out and giving dad the salute.''
Jeev Milkha Singh also shared a sight he can never forget. He shared that once a military van stopped for his father and soldiers came out to salute the legendary sprinter. Milkha Singh's son highlighted that various messages from Milkha Singh's fans post his demise are what made him more emotional.
Today is Father's Day - another sad reminder of what I've lost. Dad was much more than my father - he was my best friend, my guide, my mentor.— Jeev Milkha Singh (@JeevMilkhaSingh) June 21, 2021
I hope I've the same resilience & inner strength to overcome all odds.
I really need it now. And I will need it for the rest of my life.
Somehow, I don't remember much of Dad's funeral procession, but one sight I will never forget. A military van coming to a stop and these soldiers getting out and giving dad the salute. The Milkha family has always been grateful of the Indian Army, and I want to thank them again.— Jeev Milkha Singh (@JeevMilkhaSingh) June 21, 2021
I lost my mom and dad. But what has been even more emotional is the thousands of messages we have been getting from people as if they have lost someone of their own. Thank you to all dad's fans and well wishers for supporting us at this time.— Jeev Milkha Singh (@JeevMilkhaSingh) June 21, 2021
Born in 1929 in Govindpura a village close to Punjab province, British India, Milkha moved to Delhi in 1947 during partition before he announced himself on the big stage to earn the name of "The Flying Sikh". Milkha was orphaned during the partition (1947) and was introduced to the sport while serving in the Indian Army. It was his stint with the Indian Army which helped sharpen his running skills. Young Milkha first hogged the limelight when he outperformed 394 soldiers in a race and was selected for further grooming and training. That eventually laid the base for him to become a legendary sprinter.
Milkha Singh is considered among the legendary athletes of the country, remembered as a four-time Gold medallist at the Asian Games and a Commonwealth Games champion. He also represented India at three Olympics, with a memorable fourth-place finish in the 1960 edition of the Summer Olympics that was contested in Rome.
The legendary athlete was a four-time Asian Games gold medallist and the 1958 Commonwealth Games champion He also represented India in the 1956 and 1964 Olympics and was bestowed the Padma Shri in 1959.
(Image Credits: @PFTofIndia/@JeevMilkhaSingh/Twitter)