Some of India’s sporting legends like Milkha Singh, Bhaichung Bhutia and Pullela Gopichand on Sunday backed the government’s Fit India Movement, saying the initiative will not only help the athletes but will also keep the citizens physically agile. Milkha, Bhutia, Gopichand and top Indian woman cricketer Mithali Raj took part in the second edition of the Fit India Dialogue which was anchored by Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju.
During the dialogue, Rijiju and the panellists discussed many aspects of sports in India, including how athletes’ attitude towards fitness has changed over the decade. Talking about his fitness mantra, 91-year-old legendary sprinter Milkha said: “One’s health is linked to their gut so one needs to take extra care of their digestive system and their diet. Even at this age, I make sure that I walk and jump regularly so that my digestive system remains strong and I remain fit.” Former Indian football captain Bhutia urged parents to allow children to play.
“People say Indian players are unfit, but I don’t believe that. Fitness is something that you can always work for and gain and reach the top level,” he said. “I urge the parents to send their children out to play. Children can become professional players in the future, and even if they don’t they will remain physically fit.” Raj said the country’s perception about fitness has changed in the past few decades. “When I started playing cricket in the 90s they paid more attention to skills than fitness, but that has changed a lot as we started playing more matches. We realised that strength training, endurance and agility are equally important and we got more and more educated about it as time and game of cricket progressed.” National badminton coach Gopichand said he regularly did Surya Namaskar to stay fit during the coronavirus-forced lockdown.
“Fit India is really important and we need them to bring India back on track with regards to physical literacy and such dialogues really help spread that message,” he said.