HYDERABAD: “I want to see one Indian winning gold medal in athletics and I want to see that before I die,” said Milkha Singh at the flag off of the 12th edition of Jio Hyderabad 10K Run on Sunday. “The 10K Run is an opportunity for everyone to remain fit. At the age of 86, I can challenge you that no youngster here can compete against me,” said Milkha who has a soft corner for the city. Sharing his Hyderabad connect, the Flying Sikh said, “I owe a lot to Hyderabad. I started my running career here in 1951. I also visited the stadium is named after me in EME at Lothukunta on Saturday.”
The 12th edition of Jio Hyderabad 10K Run witnessed a record number of 16,500 participants taking to the streets of the city in the wee hours of Sunday morning. The run also saw participation of six national champions for the first time. The marathon has three categories namely – Elite, Open 10K and 7K Runs which were flagged off by Padma Shri Milkha Singh accompanied by Uma Chirgupati, chairperson of 10 K Run, Venugopal, CEO, Reliance Jio, Suresh Babu and others.
The prize money this year has been raised to `30 lakhs. Another attraction at the event was the presence of Bagicha Singh, India’s marathon walking superman who has toured India walking from Kashmir to Kanyakumari 20 times and has travelled 5,90,000 km. The 78-year-old man is campaigning against tobacco usage, smoking, gutka while carrying a 92 kg weight on his back. A warm up session by Shiamak Davar Group was held prior to the run. Entertainment programs by DPS school band, Sherwood school band, African Acrobat, English band Phoenix and Peace Frog kept the entertainment level high.
“At the age of 86 years, I can’t attend all the events and since the film has been released, I have been getting at least 400 invitations everyday but when I received an invitation for Hyderabad 10K Run, I didn’t think twice. It has been 60 years that Milkha Singh is running and till now, it is a pity that a country of 120 crore people has not managed to find another Milkha Singh,” added the sprinter.
Interestingly, the former athelete began his sports career in the city of Nizams. “I started my sports career here in 1951 and Hyderabad has given the best of athletes who have made the nation proud. I give this credit to Gopichand. When I had gone to inaugurate the stadium named after me, thousands of youth were present. At a time when many of his age are dealing some ailment or the other, Milkha’s fitness mantre is jogging. “Today, I don’t take tablets for any ailment, I just start jogging and physical fitness alone keeps you away from doctors,” revealed Milkha Singh.