Milkha relives Bangalore days

Milkha Singh flagging off the IBM Bluemix Monsoon Marathon in Bangalore on Sunday.  

Milkha Singh has an affinity with Bangalore and the Sree Kanteerava Stadium. For, it was here in 1952 that the Flying Sikh, arguably India’s most popular athlete, attended his very first national camp. It was path-breaking in many ways and even paved his way through to the Olympics.

“Everything about Bangalore and the Sree Kanteerava Stadium has changed since,” he said here on Sunday. “The track was cinder and even the tea that I had in a small shop, 60 years ago, is untraceable.”

Milkha was in Bangalore for the IBM Bluemix Monsoon Marathon, at the invitation of Milind Soman.

“In fact, I make it a point to go to the stadium, that is so close to my heart, every time I come to Bangalore,” he said.

“The track is synthetic now and the athletes flocked around me. I also met some para athletes, who with their different challenges too came running to me. I’m grateful that I inspire them even today.” Milkha was critical of the Indian Olympic Association , the coaches, and even the athletes. “There is no dearth of talent in India even today. Five Indian athletes — Milkha, G.S. Randhawa, Sriram Singh, P.T. Usha and recently Anju Bobby George, all qualified for the finals of their respective Olympic events, but our tricolour is yet to fly high at the Games. We have medals in boxing, shooting, wrestling and even in tennis, but not in athletics. And that’s a shame for a country of over 1 billion,” he lamented. “I will hold the government or the Sports Ministry accountable but then today the infrastructure is in place and the grants too. The athletes just have to work hard, be disciplined and perform on the big stage. Sadly, that is not happening,” he added.

Milkha grew a touch emotional. “I have cried just thrice in my life thus far – when my parents were killed in front of my eyes before Independence, when I dropped my medal by poor strategy at the Rome Olympics, and lastly when ‘Bhaag Milkha Bhaag’ was being filmed,” he said.

“I know how much sweat and toil I put into my practice for 12 years, six hours each day. I’m nearing 85 now and have a failing vision, but even to this day I jog thrice a week and ensure I keep myself fit. That’s the message I’d like to deliver to young and old,” he signed off.

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Printable version | Aug 2, 2021 3:12:39 AM |

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