Milkha Singh and P.T. Usha: Running & Beyond

The two names, Milkha Singh aka ‘Flying Sikh’ and P.T.Usha, shine the brightest among the runners of India. Two have been pillars of the Track and Road Events representing the country in many international athletic meets including the Asian Games, Commonwealth Games and the Olympics.

Milkha Singh – The Flying Sikh

Milkha Singh is among the first achievers in India. He is truly an epitome of dedication and commitment towards the dream. Having struggled a lot in his childhood and teenage, he thought of being a dacoit very seriously for a living. But good sense prevailed and he joined the Army. His talents on the tracks got wings here and he proved his merit in the cross-country races. He was among the early runners of India.  His passion for running brought him laurels. He won two gold medals in the 1958 Asian Games in Tokyo and also won the best athlete award at the 1959 Commonwealth Games in Cardiff. Adding to that, he was the first gold medalist from independent India at the Commonwealth Games.

P.T.Usha – The queen of the tracks

The legendary runner, P T Usha, had a big fan following and was loved by millions. Also known as Payyoli Express, she was an inspiration to all athletes in the 80s. Her incredible progress since the age of 13 years took her to many events. Though the 1980 Olympics did not work her way, she still performed well in all the Asian sports events of the decade. She was honored with the Padma Shri and Arjuna Awards and also with a total of 30 international athletic honors and titles for excellence in athletics. She had bagged a total of 101 medals in the international events.

Pillars of Inspirations to young runners and athletes

Sir Milkha Singh and P.T. Usha had been among the first achievers for India. Coming from a common man background, Milkha Singh rose to be the first Indian to bag Gold in Commonwealth games.  Post-retirement, Singh had admitted in an interview that India has immense talent for the sport, “We don’t lack talent but we lack hard work and will-power”. He emphasized on practice and right approach by the runners.

P.T.Usha had been the first Indian woman to make it to the Olympic finals. Sheer determination and commitment to the game made them overlook the lack of proper infrastructure, scientific and modern facilities and the international exposure, let alone the proper coaching and training for the specific events. She had looked beyond her limitations as a commoner and worked out on her running skills to achieve her dreams.

Their dream & passion led them to national & global glory & recognition. It is the pure will of commitment and dedication to do something for the nation & for them self which led to many millions of Indians to make them their idols. Their attitude towards developing their own self for their sole aim in life i.e. running made them lead a focused and goal-oriented lifestyle. P.T.Usha runs the ‘Usha School of Athletics’ to train the budding athletes.

She motivates the athletes towards achieving results -“Everyone thinks that bagging an Olympic medal is a difficult task. It is not. I would have certainly made it to the Los Angeles Olympics if I had a little more exposure in the 400m hurdles. Considering my limited exposure, I did well as I had participated only in two races before I went to Los Angeles. It was lack of experience in the 400m hurdles that cost me the gold medal. If India goes for a real, systematic and scientific approach, I am sure my country has a great athletic future.”

The famous dialogue from Pavan Malhotra in the movie, ‘Bhag Milkha Bhag’ “Aivaye Nahi milta India ka coat. Use kamana padta hai. Uske layak banana padta hain” preaches the determination that you should have in you to represent your country in the international arena.

Their efforts in the field have inspired many budding runners of India as well as other athletes and sportspersons to work more and walk that extra mile towards success. The young runners of India Soumya B, Hima Das, Sarita Gaikwad, Dharun Ayyaswamy and Muhammad Anas Yahiya who made it to the finals in the Commonwealth Games in 2018 in various track and road events look upon such runners who inspire them. Their blessings and experiences add to the training for the track events.

These icons have displayed that there is no retirement age if you are a runner and a person with a fit and healthy body. At 54, Usha displays immense energy and fitness. And of course, Sir Milkha Singh is still a vibrant personality at 88 as he used to be in his teens. Thanks to the discipline and attitude towards running, exercising and other fitness measures adopted by them. Their dedication to the running and the sport still acts as an inspiration to the youngsters to keep fit and take up running for a good health besides elevating the respect for the sport.

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