Bengaluru: It's difficult to believe that Milkha Singh, `the Flying Sikh', who put Indian athletics on the international map decades ago, turned 84 on Wednesday . Standing tall without the slightest stoop of age, the athlete in Milkha enthralled the gathering for a better part of an hour keeping the audience spellbound with his words of wisdom.
Talking on a range of subjects, Milkha also touched base on his biopic Bhaag Milkha Bhaag but said it only captured just 10 per cent of his actual struggles.
Expressing his views candidly, Milkha spoke on the issues currently dominating the sports scene in the country .
EXCERPTS: On the current scenario in Indian sports: When I started there was absolutely no kind of support, forget the fact that I didn't even have a place to sleep and ate whenever I got anything. But that was back then. Now India has everything that you need. It is so technologically advanced. Nowadays you have coaches, instruments, stadiums, everything. But still there seems to be something lacking. It's lack of hard work. Along with that you need a sincere coach.
There's no dearth of money also but it is being used in the wrong way . That's why you need sportsmen to head associations.
Athletics is the number one sport in the world but India is lagging behind in that. There's only one Usain Bolt. Thanks to him everyone knows Jamaica. We need someone like that from India. I want to see someone win that medal that I had dropped before I die.
On Sachin Tendulkar getting the Bharat Ratna: Previously I felt that former hockey champion Dhyan Chand should be awarded the Bharat Ratna. But it doesn't mean that I'm not happy that Sachin has been awarded it. He's taken the game to great heights and every child knows who Sachin Tendulkar is and he absolutely deserves it. It is a landmark for us as he is the first sportsperson to get it and someone who deserves it as well.
Recently I said that Sachin should be made sports minister and I stick by that. He's a sportsperson and he has gone through the pains of being one. He knows how tough it is to be out there and the feeling of bringing glory to you're country .
On the IOA tangle with the IOC: I don't see much hope of the IOA issue being solved. The people at the top level aren't related to sports. Until the players are sincere to the sport and the coaches are sincere it is very difficult.
Since all sports come under the IOA they should call a meeting with all the associations but that seems far off. Sportsmen should be the brand ambassadors of their country .
On the doping menace in sport: It's spread like cancer. The situation is so bad that kids in schools, colleges sometimes can't think about going onto the field without the needle. If you want to clean the system you should catch the ones who provide it to the players the coaches, the doctors on the team.
They are the ones who should be caught and banned for life. Midnight marathon on Dec 14 Milkha Singh was unveiled as the brand ambassador of the seventh edition of Bengaluru's Midnight Marathon and not surprisingly the theme for the marathon is “Bhaag Bengaluru Bhaag“. The event will be held on Dec 14, 6pm onwards. It will have six marathons, including half marathon, 10k run and Full marathon, women's relay, corporate relay, IT city fun run and community relay.