Makhan Singh was an Indian athlete during the 1960s. He won his first medal in the National Games in Cuttack in 1959. He continued his success in the ensuing years, winning a silver and gold in Madras in 1960 and a silver at Trivandrum in 1963. However his biggest triumph was his victory over Milkha Singh in a 400m race in the 1962 National Games in Kolkata, just two years after Milkha Singh’s stupendous feat in the 400m race at the Rome Olympics.
In 1964, the Asian Games Gold medalist, was conferred with the Arjuna Award. Almost 50 years later, his wife has been forced to put the award on sale.
Her explanation seems justified. She says ‘My husband is no more. What if something happens to me. Selling the award will give my family something. They will be able to eat.’
At a time when India is celebrating the legend of Milkha Singh, few know that Makhan Singh actually beat the ‘Flying Sikh at the 1962 Kolkata National Games.
His wife finds that hard to believe saying ‘At the moment Milkha Singh is being treated like a hero but the man who beat Milkha Singh has been forgotten’.
The years before Makhan Singh’s death were full of struggle. The athlete was reduced to driving a truck to earn money. He met with an accident and lost his leg to gangrine.
Two of his sons died due to ill health. One in 1994 and the other in 2009. Today, little is left – a third son who earns only Rs. 2500 a month, a tearful wife and a legacy in the form of an ‘award on sale’.