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A rarest of rare opportunities

One for the album: The legendary Milkha Singh with the Indian sport climbing team in Bengaluru on Monday.

One for the album: The legendary Milkha Singh with the Indian sport climbing team in Bengaluru on Monday.  

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An opportunity to meet and interact with the legendary Milkha Singh is rare. To have him visit you is rarer. But that’s what a young Indian sport climbing team got on Monday at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium when the ‘Flying Sikh’, in the city for a private visit, made a quick dash to interact with budding athletes.

“It was really unexpected,” said a climber who was preparing for the Asian Youth Championships to be held here from December 12 to 15. “It’s a dream come true for all of us. He wished us good luck for the upcoming competition and coming from a legend like him, it means a lot for us.”

Keerthi Pais, the co-chairman of the Indian Mountaineering Foundation (IMF), the governing body of sport climbing in India, said that despite a tight schedule, the 90-year-old was keen to visit the site where he first trained as 22-year-old in 1951.

“He told us four times that he wanted to come,” Pais said. “He wanted to relive those old memories. It was conveyed to the commissioner of sports that he wanted to visit. We made quick arrangements. It is such an honour for all of us [to have him here] and a great experience for the children.”

A 55-member Russian youth delegation, which was touring the stadium as part of an exchange program between the Indian and Russian governments, was thrilled to meet the Indian great too.

“He told us about his past visits to Russia and about the competitions he has participated in,” said Tatiana Seliverstova, a member of the department of youth affairs in Russia. “It was a chance meeting and we are all thankful to have met such a great man.”

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Printable version | Jan 19, 2020 7:33:57 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/other-sports/a-rarest-of-rare-opportunities/article30258422.ece

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