Makhan Singh - A forgotten sporting icon

Zee Media Bureau

New Delhi: Former Asian Gold medalist Makhan Singh, who was once feared even by legendry athlete Milkha Singh, is a sporting icon forgotten by the nation.

He was one of the finest athletes produced by the country and had earned laurels for the nation, but got no help from the government when he and his family needed help.

The poignant saga of the family of this ace athlete Makhan Singh is no different from many of our great sporting heroes, who too, died in a state of abject penury.

The family of Makhan Singh, who once ruled the tracks and passed away in 2002 at the age of 64, is struggling to make the two ends meet.

As per reports, his family members have been virtually grounded and find it difficult to even feed themselves, eleven years after the death of Makhan Singh.

Poverty lurks in the shadows in every room of Makhan Singh`s house at Bhatula village, 10 km from Hoshiarpur.

Salinder Kaur, Makhan Singh’s widow, now wants to sell the Arjuna Award and other medals won by her husband, in order to keep household running. She stated, “Yes my husband was honored, he fed me but now I don’t have any money to fill empty stomachs of my family.”

Makhan Singh showed his athletic prowess when he beat the `Flying Sikh` Milkha Singh in the 1962 Kolkata National Games. He ended the games with four gold medals in different events.

Life for this legendry athlete took a bad turn after he won a gold in the 400m relay at the 1962 Jakarta Asiad. Needing finances, Makhan started driving a truck in Nagpur. Unfortunately, he met an accident and thereafter lost a leg to gangrene.
After the accident, Makhan Singh`s life was shattered to smithereens. In 1998, he even requested a politician to get a gas agency allotted to him but the man demanded a huge bribe from him.

Two of his sons, Inderpal Singh (14) and Gurwinder Singh (22), passed away following bouts of illness, while the third one Parminder Singh (30) earns a ‘princely’ sum of Rs 2,500 per month while working as a sewadar in the Hoshiapur BDPO’s office.

To beat poverty, the athlete even opened a stationary shop in Chabewal, 3 km from his village in 1995 but could not sustain it as he had to undertake cycling on one leg for four years.

Just recently, a noble human being took his widow to MP Avinash Rai Khanna’s office in Hoshiarpur. The kind-hearted MP has now taken up the case of getting a petrol pump allotted to Salinder Kaur and has also raised the issue of the family living in poverty in the Rajya Sabha.

Makhan Singh won the Arjuna Award in 1964. He was also part of 4x400 gold medal winning team at 1962 Asian Games. He won 12 gold, three silver and one bronze at National Games. Let us hope, that the heart-wrenching saga of this extraordinary sportsman will not fall on deaf ears and the government would soon do something to help his family, which is in a state of abject penury.

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