'You have to fight at every stage to survive'

never say die

From the small village of Punjab Province, named Govindpura, now in Pakistan, to being a part of the Indian Army to acquiring name and fame as a sprinter years ago, India’s very own ‘Flying Sikh’ Milkha Singh is happy that a “sportsman has been awarded the Bharat Ratna”.

“No doubt the ‘Master Blaster’ is the greatest cricketer, but the deserving player for this award was Major Dhyanchand, the wizard of Indian hockey. But still I am happy that a sportsman is getting a Bharat Ratna”, the legendary sportsperson
said during an interaction with Metrolife at the inauguration sports injury clinic, set
up by the BLK Super Speciality Hospital.

In an expansive mood , the big man of athletics spoke on a range of subject from his emotional life story, his experience of winning numerous medals, to the difference between the sports lovers today as compared to his own days and not the least the Farhan Akhtar-starrer Bhaag Milkha Bhaag.

“There are three moments in my life that I will never forget. First, when I saw my parents being killed in front of my eyes in Pakistan. Second, the Gold medal I won in the Commonwealth Games in 1958 and third, when Pakistan’s General Ayub Khan called me the ‘Flying Sikh’,” says the former sprinter recalling those unforgettable moments.

A man of few needs, he says he is “satisfied with what I have done in my life, what I achieved as a sprinter representing India. I just hope that someday, somebody will win the Olympic medal which I didn’t get at the 1960 Rome Olympics,” says the Flying Sikh.
A Padma Shri awardee himself, Milkha Singh is not happy with the sportsmen and the sports environment in the country today.

“If Milkha Singh can win the races with the basic of running shoes, coaches and all, then why can’t our sportspersons deliver results? As far as my experience goes, India is a nation full of talented people. The only thing lacking is the will and dedication. China, the champion now in Olympics, had faith and dedication in them to believe that they can be the best in the world. Today, that country has the capability to win gold in every game they participate in,” says Milkha.

Ruing the fact that many sportspersons are only running after ‘awards’, he says “When I got the Padma Shri, I didn’t know what the honour meant. The only overriding emotion was to excel, work hard, stay focused and dedicated. Unfortunately, these sentiments are lacking today. Everybody is running after awards. In our time there was neither money, nor swanky sports clinics,” says the 79-year-old ace athlete.

Very impressed with the movie Bhaag Milkha Bhaag he says, “The film has inspired the youngsters a lot. Wherever I go in the country whether it’s Mumbai, Hyderabad or Kolkata, people say ‘we haven’t watched a movie like this before’.”

Sharing that the movie was an emotional journey back to his humble beginnings Milkha says, “I got very emotional when I watched the movie. Some scenes brought tears to my eyes and I thought to myself what I was and what I had become. You have to fight at every stage to survive.”

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