Olympians from Bengal paid tribute to Milkha Singh, who passed away in Chandigarh on Friday night.
Jyotirmoyee Sikdar, who won two gold medals in the 1998 Bangkok Asian Games, said Milkha’s achievements were incomparable.
“Now athletes are getting so many facilities. Even we got some. But think of the time when a few years after independence, Milkha shone in international events without any facilities,” Jyotirmoyee told The Hindu on Saturday.
“I remember getting a call from him when I won the two golds. I met him twice. When I introduced myself, he said, ‘Oh! You are Jyotirmoyee. Who does not know you?’
“Good that a film was made on him. Once I attended a school sports event and was delighted to see kids encouraging their friends by shouting ‘Bhag Milkha, Bhag.’ The film inspired the younger generation. He was a great athlete and it’s a sad day for Indian sports,” said Jyotirmoyee.
Another Olympian Soma Biswas, an Asian Games silver medallist, remembered Milkha as a legend who encouraged youngsters.
An idol, says Soma
“I met him for the first time during the 2001 Ludhiana National Games. He was an idol for all athletes. A few words of encouragement from him were enough for up-and-coming athletes like me. His death is a great loss to Indian sports,” said Soma.
Gurbux Singh, a 1964 Tokyo Olympics gold medal-winning hockey player, remembered his contemporary Milkha.
“In 1959, we had our hockey camp at the Yadavindra Singh Stadium in Patiala, where Milkha trained for the 1960 Olympics. Our captain Leslie Claudius was friendly with him.
“Later, we both participated in the 1964 Olympics. Milkha was a great icon of Indian sports and had a long and fruitful life,” said Gurbux.