Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju has expressed condolences on the demise of track legend Milkha Singh. The former sprinter died of COVID-19 related complications in a hospital in Chandigarh late on Friday night.
“Today is a very sad day for the entire sports fraternity of our country. We are deeply saddened by the passing away of the legendary Flying Sikh of our country, Milkha Singh. With the passing of Milkha Singh, I feel that a big chapter in the world of sports has come to an end today,” Kiren Rijuju told ANI.
“That’s why I am going to Chandigarh now, along with the message of the Prime Minister, on behalf of our Sports Ministry, entire sports world, and sportspersons. Milkha Singh Ji was not only a simple athlete but also a great player and an example for the youth of our country. Milkha Singh’s wife left us a few days ago, she was also a very big player, captain of India’s volleyball team, and had played for the country.”
Milkha Singh is survived by one son and three daughters. His wife and former captain of the Indian women’s national volleyball team, Nirmal Milkha Singh succumbed to COVID-19 at the age of 85 on June 13.
“The passing away of Milkha Singh Ji and his wife is a big loss for me and for the entire country, we have lost our original star. When I met Milkha Singh Ji, he expressed his desire that he has many things to discuss with us, so I told him that I will soon come to meet him and would talk about creating a pathway for the future of sports in the country. In the meantime due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I was not able to meet him, and today when I am going, it’s to see him off for the last time.”
The legendary athlete is a four-time Asian Games gold-medallist and 1958 Commonwealth Games champion. He is still the only Indian athlete to win Gold in the Asian and Commonwealth Championship and was awarded the Padma Shri, India’s fourth-highest civilian honor, in recognition of his sporting achievements.
“Don’t want to discuss awards but Milkha Singh Ji’s life is an award in itself, for everyone and for the country, that’s why today the whole country is engulfed in mourning even after he left the game so many years ago. There are very few people like Dhyan Chand and Milkha, whom we keep remembering after so many years, these few names are immortal. That’s why I want to tell you that the right tribute to Milkha Singh Ji will be when we will follow the path shown by him and adopt his message in our lives. Not everyone can become Milkha Singh,” Rijiju said.
Kiren Rijiju has backed the Indian Olympic 2020 squad to complete the dream of Milkha Singh to win a medal in athletics/track and field.
“At this time there is an atmosphere of Olympics in the country and the Indian Olympic contingent which is also the biggest Olympic delegation in the history of our nation will aim to fulfill the dream of Milkha Singh Ji at Tokyo 2020. We will leave no stone unturned to fulfill a dream of his to win a medal in Olympic athletics. It was his dream which could not be fulfilled during his lifetime but I want to promise that we will fulfill Milkha Singh’s dream and we will bring Olympic medal in athletics as soon as possible.”
“After his last rites, we will discuss what the sports world can really give him, what we can do with my Sports Ministry to honour his memory,” Rijiju pointed.
Milkha had a personal best of 20.7 seconds in 200m which he clocked in Lahore on January 31, 1960. It set him up for a gallant show in the Rome Olympic Games where he clocked a National Record time of 45.6 seconds in the 400m final on September 6.
“He missed by a fraction in Rome Olympics but was no match for others after that. On behalf of the sports world and on behalf of my ministry, I offer my condolences on his passing and at the same time pray that his soul rests in peace,” he said. (ANI)