Long race of Flying Sikh began in Secunderabad

In the 2013 film Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, actor Farhan Akhtar is seen running parallel to a train. The scene was a slice of Milkha Singh’s life in Secunderabad where his ascent as one of the best athletes began.

Milkha Singh came to Secunderabad as a soldier at the EME Centre and sometime in January 1953, he learnt that athletics could save him from the rigour of fatigue duty that involved digging trenches, laying roads, gardening, washing utensils and other manual labour. And he began training for a six-mile race. But it was in the shorter 400-metre race that he carved a niche for himself.

One of the biggest EME Centre facilities is in Secunderabad at the foothills of Koh-e-Imam e Zameen. The railroad connecting Secunderabad to Nizamabad passes through the area with some trains stopping at Ammuguda station. It was parallel to this railway track that Milkha Singh actually raced with trains which were then metre-guage ones pulled by steam engines. In his biography, he recalled how racing against trains was one of the fun aspects of his life. He also remembered having a free run in the cantonment area which was a vast swathe of wilderness.

It was in Secunderabad while practising in the night that a young and enthusiastic Milkha Singh was spotted by Brigadier S.P. Vohra who cleared his path for serious training by reducing his workload. The hillock of Ammuguda too played a role in shaping his career as it was used by Milkha Singh for strength and stamina training where he would carry a bag filled with stones up the steep hill and then run down.

Old-timers still remember the athlete who didn’t mind sharing his knowledge. “Tamil people from the SC community (a majority of them who aspired to join the Army through sports quota) from Ammuguda, JJ Nagar Colony, trained along with him. Several sports veterans from Ammuguda, JJ Nagar Colony, Yapral and adjoining areas had met him at some point and trained together,” says a resident of the area.

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Printable version | Jul 28, 2021 1:18:45 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Hyderabad/long-race-of-flying-sikh-began-in-secunderabad/article34860837.ece

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