There are so many athletes in this world who are globally admired. But for me, there’s one particular athlete who has given me goosebumps with his speed.
He is none other than Milkha Singh – the man who flew! Also known as The Flying Sikh, he was an Indian track and field sprinter who was introduced to the sport while serving in the Indian Army.
I know him because when I was a student, I got a chance to meet him in person. After talking to him, I was anxious to know more about his larger-than-life personality. I saw in movie “Bhaag Milkha Bhaag”, read his autobiography The Race of My Life… In short, I’ve done everything I could do to find how he became most decorated Indian athlete.
Milkha Singh is the only athlete to win gold at 400 metres race at the Asian Games as well as the Commonwealth Games. He also won gold medals in the 1958 and 1962 Asian Games. He represented India in the 1956 Summer Olympics in Melbourne, the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome and the 1964 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. Furthermore, His finishing time in the 1960 Olympics 400m final race set a national record that stood for 40 years.
Simply put he was the first Indian athletics superhero who had emerged on the scene at a time when such a star coming out of India was deemed impossible. Milkha Singh fired world imagination and successfully placed Indian athletics on the world map without the slightest of backing from the establishment.
When somebody perform miracles, popularity eventually follow! This is what happened with Mr Singh… He was awarded the Padma shri in recognition of his legendary sporting achievements.
In the end, unfortunately he is no more with us but his legacy will remain forever.
1.What kinds of exercises do Indian people like?
Indian’s like to perform Meditation, Morning walk and Yoga. But nowadays, most people don’t find enough time and motivation to follow some fitness regime. That’s why there has been a dramatic increase in diseases like obesity and diabetes in India.
2. What characteristics do you think an athlete should have?
I think two essential qualities for an athlete are – discipline and self-belief. Success is not an overnight phenomenon; it requires regular hard work and perseverance. Moreover, in athletics, mental strength is as important as physical fitness, if not more.
3. Why are there so few top athletes?
Because the journey to become a top-notch athlete is not a cake walk. I think the availability of resources and training infrastructure is the biggest deciding factor in the success of an athlete. India in particular, has chronic staff shortages at sports training centres. As a result, sportspersons who are well off; move abroad to seek better training, while most athletes remain in the country.
4. What’s the best way to become a top athlete?
A great athlete is a well-rounded one and there’s a lot that goes into it… Discipline, lifestyle habits, self-awareness & personal development – all of that combined to create an athlete that is strong, fast, and most importantly, injury free.