'Appoint coaches on contract'

Milkha saddened by the present state of athletics in India

'Appoint coaches on contract'

Legendary sprinter Milkha Singh rues the fact that no Indian athlete has been able to replicate his success at the international level and urged the Sports Authority of India (SAI) to appoint contract-based coaches who can produce champions. 

The success of Milkha has come alive again thanks to the screening of his bio-pic Bhaag Milkha Bhaag. The now 77-year-old, however, was disappointed at the state of athletics in the country and strongly felt the need of opening academies in every state that would produce players capable of winning at the Olympic Games.

“SAI appoints coaches for the long-term. But I would request them to appoint coaches on contract basis of four years with a clear-cut target. We need to focus on athletics as it is the No 1 sport in Olympics. The success of one Usain Bolt has put Jamaica on the world map, why can’t we do the same?,” Milkha told reporters at an event where Sports Mentor launched its national level school competition — RESPECT Championships — for ASICS Schools for unearthing and nurturing sporting talent.

The first edition of the event would kick off in Bangalore on Friday with national finals to be held in eight locations in November. The competition would have children from two age groups of under-16 (boys and girls) and under-18 (boys and girls) from 25000 schools.
They would compete in eight disciplines — basketball, football, volleyball, athletics, cricket, tennis, hockey and swimming. 

Milkha said it was important that talented youngsters were nurtured to compete at the international level.

“Once you have scouted talented youngsters, they should be put in a sports academies where they are given coaches and their progress is monitored. We need to develop players who can win medals for India. Why there has been no Milkha Singh since 1960 or PT Usha?  One needs to work hard to be there,” he said.

Milkha also confirmed that American track and field star Carl Lewis had called to congratulate him on the movie. “Yes, he called me to congratulate me. He is a legendary athlete.”

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