Exclusive Interview: Milkha Singh - The making of a legend
Then came the Rome Olympics in July (1960)...
The people who made up the audience at the Olympics had not seen too many Sikhs. Because of my long hair and beard, they mistook me for a saint.
Every time I ran, they would think that a saint was running and a huge cheer would go around the stadium.
You ran four races, each of which saw you clock better timings - 47.6, 46.5, 45.9 and 45.6. The final ended in a photo-finish. Can you recall the race for us and your feelings after it?
Sahi kaha aapne. Yes, I bettered my timings in each of the four races.
The 45.9 in the semi-finals saw me break the then Olympics record.
In the final, four of us ended up bettering the existing world record. I remember the photo-finish (seen here) and the excruciating wait that followed.
Finally, when the results were announced I was fourth. It was sheer bad luck.
I had been in the lead in the early stages. But I then made a huge mistake.
I told myself 'Milkha, you are running too fast' and slowed down a few paces. It broke my rhythm.
Once you lose your rhythm in a race, you cannot recover it.
I should at least have come third since Mel Spence of South Africa, who claimed the bronze, was an athlete whom I had beaten earlier. Like I said, it was not my day.