Milkha Singh passed away as the 91-year-old Padma Shri awardee lost his month-long battle with Covid-19 late Friday night at a Chandigarh hospital.
M. Sreeshankar, who holds India’s long jump national record, said that Milkha Singh’s death has shaken the Indian athletics community.
“Me, my father and in the everyone in the Indian Athletics are heart broken. He has shown the path for all of us," he told New18.com.
“Its reallt painfull to hear the sade demise of legendary Mikhla Singhji. His contribution to Indian atheltics as well as they way he has shwon the path for future athletes, his dedication, his determination, his willpower, is something that every athlete will want to take up in his or her life. He has come a long way. It is a great miss for all Indians and the sporting fraternity," he added.
He recalled how a Bollywood movie about the Flying Sikh’s life and career motivated and inspired him as a child.
“When I was in 9th standard, Bhaag Milkha Bhaag released, and I was quite moved and inspired by that movie. I don’t remember how many times I have watched the movie, whenever it used come on TV, we would watch it as a family," he said.
“Milkha Singh ji is a true motivation and role model of inspiration for anyone because of the odds he overcame right from childhood. Migrating from Govindpura to Punjab, which is now in India. It really is long and tough way. The way he rose as the ‘Flying Sikh’ is an inspiration for athletes not only in India but all over the world."
Sreeshankar also reminisced how Milkha Singh wanted India to win an Olympic medal before he died, a dream that was left unfulfilled.
“It is a sad day for all of us. He wanted to see India win an Olympic medal in athletics," he said.
“For all Indian athletes, Milkha Singhji is like a guru, because of the enormity of his achievements. He ran 45.6 seconds in the Rome Olympics and also has done 45.4 seconds, which is an incredible timing when one compares the facilities and conditions we have now.," the JSW athlete added.
Even though he never got the chance to meet the ‘Flying Sikh’ himself, Sreeshankar also recalled the time his father, S. Murali, who is a former triple jumper and silver medalist at the South Asian Games and also his coach, met Milkha Singh.
“I never got the chance to meet him, my dad had met him in the national camp when he had visited. They had a casual chat.," he said.
Indian javelin star Annu Rani too was taken aback by the news.
“Mikhla Singh was admitted in the hospital, we athletes knew, but didn’t know he would leave us so soon. I am really sad after hearing the news of his passing. India will forever be indebted to him for his contribution to Indian athletics and for putting India’s name on world map and will continue to spire and motivate us in the future too," she told News18.com.
“He is an inspiration for us all athletes as his life story and his struggles and his triumphs motivate us. I have not meet him personally, even though it was a dream of mine to meet and him and get to learn something from him," the JSW athlete added.