'Flying Sikh' tale has local tie.

An Edina pastor takes pride in his family's role in the success of Jeev Milkha Singh's father, a world-class s...

BLOOMFIELD TOWNSHIP, MICH. - Dale Howard is an associate pastor at Normandale Evangelical Lutheran Church in Edina. He read about Jeev Milkha Singh, the co-leader after the first round of the PGA Championship, in Friday's Star Tribune.

The theme was that Jeev Milkha was the other Singh, not Vijay, to American golf fans, but he was famous in his home country of India for two reasons:

One, his rare success as a golfer from India; and two, his father, Milkha, was known as "The Flying Sikh'' and a storied track star.

Milkha went to the 1960 Rome Olympics as one of the favorites in the 400-meter run. He made a tactical mistake and finished fourth.

The item struck a chord with Rev. Howard for this reason: His father, Dr. Arthur W. Howard, was Milkha Singh's coach in India.

Dale Howard offered some background in an e-mail sent Saturday:

"Dad served in India as a Methodist missionary from 1944 to retirement in 1977. When freedom came to India in 1947, the government asked him to serve on the committee that wrote the physical education syllabus for all of India.

"He also began coaching track and field all over India ... That eventually led to his being a founder of the National Institute of Sports.

"Milkha was an orphan during the partition of the country [creating Pakistan]. He hung around an army camp, doing odd jobs, shining soldiers' boots and the like. He eventually joined the army and began competing in intra-squad sports, where his natural talents were noticed.

"He advanced into international prominence, winning the gold medal at the 1958 Commonwealth Games. Whereas Dad was with him at Cardiff, Wales, in 1958, he wasn't with him at Rome. I believe that his presence may have made for a different outcome.''

"Dad, nearing 96, continues to live at his home in Warsaw, Indiana.''

Dr. Howard returned to India last year and had a reunion with his pupil in Chandigarh. The meeting of coach and athlete was covered by three India newspapers.

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