Pune: India's most celebrated athlete Milkha Singh on Sunday exhorted youths to take inspiration from his story and win an Olympic medal in athletics, something he says he wants to see around the neck of an Indian track and field athlete before he says goodbye to this world.
“I failed to win a medal in 1960 Rome Olympics and it hurts me till today. More than half a century has passed since then but no Indian has been able to win an Olympic medal in athletics,” rued Milkha Singh.
(L-R) Milkha Singh, Dattu Bhokanal and Dr. Wishwajeet Kadam
“It is my last wish to see an Olympic medal around an Indian athletes’ neck on the podium at the Olympic Games,” Milkha, fondly known as Flying Singh, said at a felicitation ceremony of sports persons and coaches organized by the Pune International Sports Expo on the concluding day of the event.
“I have last run a competitive race almost 50 years ago, but since then over these years no Milkha has risen from this vast country. I specially came to Pune because it is here that I spent my 6-7 years of training days when I joined the Indian Army and this city has given me a lot,” said Milkha is his address.
His story is well documented in book and film that became a blockbuster, but what many do not know is that it was his son, international golfer Jeev Milkha Singh, who was instrumental in persuading him to give his story to Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra for a princely royalty of Re 1.
“My son insisted that I give my story to Omprakash Mehra, the maker of another Bollywood hit 'Rang de Basanti', when there were two or three more directors wanting to pay more than a Rs 1 crore for royalty.
Referring to the sportspersons of this generation who expect fast results, Milkha advised them from falling for performance enhancing drugs to achieve the goals.
“There are sportspersons who want to achieve something in two days what one can do naturally in four months. They take drugs and then they get caught and that brings blight to our country. This is unpardonable,” Said Milkha.
He went on to narrate his story of how he became what he is now and the contribution of Pakistan in making him Flying Sikh.
“What I did then is always possible now, but someone has to get up and start running to achieve the goals,” he said.
Dr Vishwajeet Kadam, convener and founder of PISE said through the exhibition he wanted to give something more to sports than just exhibitors selling their ware.
Seminars and felicitations were just the idea which became possible because so many people from different specters came together and contributed towards it.
He said that honouring Narsing Yadav and Dattu Bhoknal was also one such idea because they have shown that despite coming from a very humble background they have achieved at the international level and now they are going to represent India at the Olympic Games.
Sportspersons: Narsing Yadav (wrestling, qualified for Rio Olympics), Dattu Bhoknal (rowing, qualified for Rio Olympics), Madhavi Late (para swimmer and basketball player), Eesha Karavade (chess), Gauri Gadgil (special athlete), Vaishnavi Jagtap (para athlete), Bharat Chavan (para athlete).
Coaches: Abhijit Tambe (swimming coach of special athletes), Ashok Nangre (para coach), Gajanan Patil (athletics), Pravin Dhage (gymnastics), Rajendra Sapate (kho kho), Dhiraj Mishra (football), Deepali Nikam (cycling), Subedar Jagganath Lakde (athletics), C Prakash (swimming), Sagar Thakur (hockey), Anthony Das Pereira (para coach), Raju Dabhade (roll ball), Rahul Rane (skating).