The Flying Sikh, as he is popularly called, said sportspersons do not need a lockdown, instead they should be allowed to train as much as they can but by maintaining all the social distancing norms. He, however, clarified that only contact sports like boxing and wrestling should be barred, as it involves close contact with the opponents.
The Athletics Federation of India (AFI) had on Sunday decided to restart outdoor training for the athletes after an online meeting between the NIS officials and the athletes on Saturday evening. According to a top official in the Athletics Federation of India (AFI), the athletes based at NIS-Patiala, SAI Centre in Bengaluru and Ooty can resume their training from Monday, by strictly following the federation’s SOP.
“Khel ko bandh nhi karna chahiye (Sports should not be halted). It is highly recommended that daily training, exercise and yoga improves your immune system, and so sports should resume as soon as possible but by maintaining all social distancing norms,” Milkha told TOI.
“Barring contact sports like boxing and wrestling, I think there is hardly any contact in track and field, golf, tennis, badminton and other disciplines,” he added.
Citing his own example, Milkha, who is best remembered is his fourth-place finish in the 400 metres final at the 1960 Olympic Games, said, “Corona ko door rakhne ke liye exercise jaruri hai (It is very important to maintain a healthy lifestyle to keep corona at bay). I am 91 now, I regularly do back exercise, and knee exercise, if you don’t trouble your body, it will obviously turn rusty.”
“For an athlete, it’s of no use if he has to train within the four walls, he should train outside,” he said.
On being asked what can the athletes start with since they have been locked indoors for more than a couple of months, Milkha’s advice would be “keep it simple, don’t rush into things”.
“They should start with simple jogging as their bodies need to warm up before going for formal training. Rushing into things would only result in injuries, which we do not want for any of our athletes,” he said.
Milkha, the three-time Olympian, also rued the fact that the standard of athletics has gone down from his era, and called on athletes to give their 100 percent in whatever they do.
“It’s a sad scenario in most sporting disciplines, be it hockey or athletics. Tell me how many Olympic medals have we won in hockey or for that matter in athletics. I don’t want to discourage our youngsters, but they should take a leaf out of the lives of Dhyan Chand, Balbir Singh or Milkha Singh,” said Milkha, who clinched gold medals in the 1958 and 1962 Asian Games.