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Only Anju has a chance: Milkha Singh

Source: PTI
July 20, 2004 21:02 IST
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Predicting a dismal show from the Indian athletic contingent, 'Flying Sikh' Milkha Singh said on Wednesday that the apathy of the authorities and increasing drug abuse among athletes would be the key factors responsible for the "poor performance" in the Olympics.

"I don't think our players can bring back any medal. It will be hoping too much from them knowing well that the performance which they achieve back home, mainly by using performance enhancing drugs, is seldom duplicated in international events," the legendary athlete, who missed out on a bronze in the 400m at the 1960 Rome Olympics, said in Chandigarh.

Milkha believed that Indians stood no chance against the world's best in Athens next month except for long jumper Anju Bobby George, who won India's first medal in a World Athletics Championships in Paris last August.

"When I met her earlier, I told her that touching 6.84m in international events may not be enough and that she needed to improve further or atleast hold on to her present form,

which she has not been able to maintain. I advised her that she should participate in international events to get more confidence," said Milkha, who had won 77 of the 80 races he took part in.

The 69-year-old said India had produced only three other great Olympians -- Gurbachan Singh Randhawa, Sriram Singh and P T Usha -- who excelled for the country at the highest level.

"It is impossible to think that for the past four decades India has failed to produce medal winning athletes. It is high time that the government should look into this or stop sending teams abroad," Milkha said.

He said the problem now a days is that both athletes and and coaches want instant results.

"The coaches feel happy and secure if their wards are performing well, no matter by whatever means they adopt. The performance of an athlete also helps him to get a good job and it seems the drive and passion to achieve something for the country ends there."

Expressing his dismay at the prevailing state of affairs, Milkha said: "The athletes are not only deceiving themselves but the country as a whole, which has high hopes from them. I have written to the Union Government and the Sports Ministry at least 20 times urging them to inquire into the fact why athletes who clock good timings back home are not able to duplicate it in the Olympics or the Commonwealth Games. But the authorities concerned never bothered."

Milkha said recently he had met Sports Minister Sunil Dutt and told him that "we need to pull our socks and set things right. Otherwise, the crores of rupees we are pumping for upgrading and improving our sports infrastructure will go down the drain."

He appreciated Dutt's concern to give players better facilities and that they didn't suffer due to official apathy.

I think it's a good sign for us that we have a Sports Minister who is caring and wants that players should have better facilities so that they can perform better," he said.

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