No mention of sports in manifestos of political parties shows their priorities: Milkha Singh | lucknow | Hindustan Times
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No mention of sports in manifestos of political parties shows their priorities: Milkha Singh

Politicians not talking about sportspersons or sports in their speeches really saddens me. I really have no answer. May be our leaders can respond to it. But, I do believe that sports should be there in their agenda when they go out asking for votes, said Milkha Singh

lucknow Updated: Jan 14, 2017 13:18 IST
HT Correspondent
Milkha Singh
Milkha Singh(HT Photo)

Padma Shri Milkha Singh needs no introduction. On his visit to Lucknow on Friday, the former athlete shares his last wish, expectations from the UP government and admiration for the Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He reveals how his heart bleeds when he see that sports does not finding a place in the agenda of political parties in five poll-bound states in the country. In an interview with Rajeev Mullick, ‘The Flying Sikh’ shares his vision on promoting sports in India

Why it is so that political parties do not mention sports in their poll manifesto?

They say healthy mind resides in a healthy body. But it is a matter of regret that sports do not figure in the agenda of political parties. Politicians not talking about sportspersons or sports in their speeches really sadden me. I really have no answer. May be our leaders can respond to it. But, I do believe that sports should be there in their agenda when they go out asking for votes.

Any advice for the next government in UP?

I would like to thank UP chief minister Akhilesh Yadav for doing a lot many things to promote sports in the state. He constructed international stadium that hosted an international match. I would be very happy if Akhilesh or whosoever forms the government in the state establishes an ultra-modern athletic academy. There is no dearth of talent in UP but it has to be tapped.

How should the government promote sports?

The government should tap young sportspersons from All India School games. They should be put under the watchful eyes of dedicated and results-oriented coaches like Gopichand who can groom them as per the international standards. India will not win medals by mere big talks. The players and coaches will have to work hard. China is an example that did really well in sports in 8-10 years.

Are you happy the way sports federation is being run in the country?

Not at all. I have no problems with bureaucrats heading them. But experts and technical position should always be held by former sportspersons who understand the sports. For instance, Saurav Ganuly can make a difference in cricket and Pargat Singh can do wonders in hockey. The sports federations should make good use of former players and athletes to promote sports.

How to celebrate the sportspersons success?

The stadiums should be named after sportspersons and not after political leaders. This is best way to respect a sportsperson and celebrate their achievements. It is the sportsperson who played matches on those grounds and represented their country on the field. Nowhere in the world we see stadium named after political leaders. This practice of naming stadiums after politicians should be done away with. I have nothing against Vijay Goel heading sports ministry but instead Olympian Rajyavardhan Rathore should be given the task of leading the ministry.

What is your take on biopics being made on Indian sportsperson?

It is a good thing. See there were hardly anybody in the present generation who knew about Milkha Singh and what all I achieved in life. It was only after the film that youngsters came to know about my life and they respect me. I was happy that a biopic was made on MS Dhoni. I will love to see a biopic on another Indian athlete PT Usha who also rose from humble background.

What are your hopes for Olympics?

India has not been able to produce another Milkha Singh in 60 years. Country with 130 crore population should have won many more medals in Olympics. I will love to see an Indian athlete smashing gold in Olympic that slipped from my hand in Rome Olympic in 1960. I will love to hear our national anthem being played in Olympics again and again. I still regret that after winning gold in the commonwealth game in 1958, I could not lay my hand on gold.