NEW DELHI: India goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu on Saturday recalled the memories of ace track legend Milkha Singh, who passed away Friday night.
One of the country’s earliest sports heroes, Milkha died of Covid-related complications in a private hospital in Chandigarh late on Friday night, leaving the sporting community in shock and disbelief. “Legends and their legacies live on forever. Milkha Singh-ji and his life story has influenced billions of people in India and across the world, and even though he is no longer with us, he will continue to inspire future generations. As I woke up to the news of his tragic demise today, my mind immediately went back to the unforgettable memory of receiving an award from the legend himself. The words he spoke to me at the time are still with me and continue to be a huge source of inspiration,” Gurpreet told aiff.com.
“It was in 2015 and I was one of the winners of the Under 30 Awards. The ceremony took place in Chandigarh and it was Milkha-ji who presented my award to me. He told me, “Hard work has no replacement. I even used to vomit blood at times after training but tumhe rukna nahi hai,” he added.
Milkha had a personal best of 20.7 seconds in 200m in Lahore on January 31, 1960. It set him up for a gallant show in the Rome Olympic Games where he clocked a National Record time of 45.6 seconds in the 400m final on September 6.
Besides his 1960 Olympic Games heroics, Milkha Singh will be remembered for his victory in the 1958 Commonwealth Games in Cardiff. He won gold in the 440-yard sprint in a Games Record time of 46.6 seconds. Milkha Singh is survived by one son and three daughters. His wife and former captain of the Indian women’s national volleyball team Nirmal Milkha Singh succumbed to COVID-19 at the age of 85 on June 13.
Sharing how he was motivated by Flying Sikh, Sandhi said: “At the time, I was playing my club football in Norway with Stabaek, where every day was a fight to prove myself and break into the starting lineup. It was a great challenge and living abroad, there were days when it was hard to keep my spirits up. However, I used to fall back on these words spoken to me by ‘the Flying Sikh’ himself, they were a great motivator and pushed me to give my all each day.”
“This is just a small example from my life and I am sure there will be so many more athletes across the country like me whose lives were touched by the great man himself and they were able to push themselves to the next level through his blessings and wisdom. All of us grew up reading about him and his successes, and to have shared the stage with him in person is a memory I will always keep close to my heart,” he added