The Versatilist

A rhythmic space for Hindi Poetry, Book Reviews and Travel Stories

Book Review: The Race of My Life, Milkha Singh

Author: Milkha Singh with Sonia Sanwalka
Published: 2013
Publisher: Rupa Publications
Pages: 150
My Rating & Recommendation: 4/5, I strongly Recommend this book

I usually run three rounds around the park but today I ran one extra round. At the end of it, I was huffing, sweating, breathing heavily, and felt completely jaded. That made me wonder in awe about the mettle of Milkha Singh, the man who ran like a machine. ‘Flying Sikh’, as he is better known, is the greatest Indian athlete ever. He ran 80 international races and won 77 of them. He lost an Olympic bronze medal in 1960 Rome Olympics by 1/100th of a second. Need I say more? His book, like his real life is equally compelling.

The description of Milkha Singh’s scarred childhood is heart wrenching. He witnessed his family getting slaughtered in the riots that ensued India’s partition in 1947. Thereafter, he became a delinquent adolescent who was saved just in time by the Indian Army. Milkha articulates his journey beautifully. From an unruly, recalcitrant lad who started running for an extra glass of milk in diet, to the champion runner whose passion knew no boundaries. The lucid description of Milkha’s feeling about his life and relationships, his training sessions and races etc. made me feel captivated to the book.

The book also presents some highlights from Milkha’s post retirement life. His contributions to the sports in India and the struggle with the politics in sports helps readers get a perspective. Overall, a gripping story of a man with no means, who ran his way to glory. Happy Reading!

PS: A Bollywood movie ‘Bhaag Milkha Bhaag’ was made on the life on Milkha Singh in 2013. Expectedly, the movie was a huge success. 

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