Milkha Singh’s fitness mantra for Pune kids: genetics won’t curb your athletic capabilities

The legendary 88-year-old athlete believes hard work and dedication can do wonders

pune Updated: Feb 18, 2018 21:07 IST
Ashish Phadnis
Ashish Phadnis
Hindustan Times, Pune
Pune,Milkha Singh,fitness mantra
The Padmashree awardee, famously known as The Flying Sikh, was in the city as chief guest for the ‘red marathon’ event at Balewadi.(HT PHOTO)

Daily exercise and diet control are the two key factors behind a healthy life and if you continue to do this, you won’t need to visit a doctor in your lifetime, said India’s one of the finest athletes, Milkha Singh, on Sunday.

The Padmashree awardee, famously known as The Flying Sikh, was in the city as chief guest for the ‘red marathon’ event at Balewadi. Runners were excited to watch the veteran athlete walk without any support at the age of 88. He confidently climbed the stage, communicated with runners and shared his fitness regime.

“Even today, I don’t miss my daily exercise. That not only keeps you fit but also keeps you cheerful and positive. Secondly, I control my diet and I would say the same to you. Eat less and exercise more and live a healthy life like me,” he said.

Talking about the current state of athletics in the country, he said, “It’s painful to see that after Independence, India hasn’t won a single Olympic medal in athletics. Though we are now getting medals in several sports like shooting, boxing, wrestling and badminton, but we must also pay attention to athletics, gymnastics and swimming where we are way behind.”

When asked whether Indian athletes are genetically fit for such sports, he said, “Athletes like me, PT Usha, Anju Bobby Gerorge have reached finals in Olympics, and it’s not easy to reach the finals. If Indians were genetically inferior then we wouldn’t have reached even finals. It’s the lack of dedicated effort and government support, otherwise we have enough talent to prove.”

He stressed that to create future champions, efforts should be taken at a younger age and those at the age of 12-14 should be targeted.

“Not every school in India has athletics as a compulsory sport. They should make it compulsory. Athletics is the mother of all sport and every child must try out it once during his school days.”

Coaches play a key role

“We have seen that a dedicated coach can do wonders. The way P Gopichand has produced a pool of talented badminton players, we want similar to happen in athletics,” he said.

“The coach and doctor play a key role in athlete’s career. If the player is found guilty in doping, the coach and doctors should be held responsible as they are the one who should prevent athlete from doing so. Doping is the most harmful thing and youths must stay away from it. It not just spoils your body, but overall reputation of your country and the sport in general.”

Milkha Singh also shared his pain of missing the medal in Rome Olympics in 1960, where he finished fourth with a margin of fraction of a second.

“I am currently in 90s, and before I die, I want someone to complete my dream. I want Indian athlete to win a medal in Olympics and that will be the happiest day in my life,” he said.

First Published: Feb 18, 2018 21:07 IST