It has been more than 50 years since India won its one and the only gold medal in athletics at the Commonwealth Games and the man to achieve the feat, Milkha Singh expects the drought to continue this year as well.Current crop of athletes don’t work hard, says the legendMilkha said that while Indian athletes do not have the will to work hard these days, the majority of blame for India’s inability to succeed at the world stage should go to the people sitting at the helm.”If India was serious about winning medals at the Commonwealth Games at all, their preparations should have started long back but now I don’t expect India to win any medals in athletics,” Milkha told Mail Today. “Things cannot be changed in a few months because it takes years of hard work to succeed, especially in athletics which is the most followed event at any Games,” he said.The 81-year-old is the only Indian so far to win a gold in athletics at the Commonwealth Games, a feat he achieved in 1958 at Cardiff in the 440 yard/quarter mile race.But since then, no Indian has managed to repeat his feat.”Athletes do not want to work very hard these days and you don’t see the same enthusiasm in them that we had in those years.”But the people who are sitting at the top positions are to be blamed for the state of athletics in the country. The whole world looks up to athletics as the main event of any Games but the people at the helm of affairs in our country have hardly paid any heed on improving the standard of our athletes,” he charged.advertisementHe claimed that it has been eight years since he asked Indian Olympic Association (IOA) chief Suresh Kalmadi to focus on the preparations of national athletes but all his suggestions fell on deaf ears.”For years, I have been asking to provide our athletes good training but no one was bothered to listen to me. Eight years ago, I had told Mr Kalmadi to focus on athletics but none of my views were taken.”India can win medals in shooting, boxing, badminton, wrestling and other disciplines as well but it is the medals in athletics that everyone wants to see India win,” he added.The ‘Flying Sikh’ said he was pained by the allegations of corruption in the various Commonwealth Games projects and added that it was very damaging for India’s image.”I regularly go outside India with my son (Jeev Milkha Singh) and people do ask me about the stories of corruption in the Commonwealth Games here.”It (allegations of corruption) has left a very negative impact on the world community. At a time when the Indians should have been training hard to grab the home advantage, it is very embarrassing that the country has to go through all this,” he rued.The memories of his gold medal- winning feat at the 1958 Games, in which he outsprinted South African stalwart Malcom Clive Spence in a photo-finish, still remain fresh in Milkha’s mind.He remembers the warm reception he received on his homecoming and the congratulatory messages that flooded in.”I still remember that moment when I saw those stunned faces around me as they never expected me to beat an athlete like Spence, who was the then world record holder in the 440m.”But I had the will to do it and I did. I hope to see some of the Indian athletes to be amongst the top sprinters of the world but there is too much of hard work required to achieve that,” he signed off.
Powered By Impressive Business WordPress Theme