Country’s legendary sprinter Milkha Singh, who lost the life’s battle to Covid-19, had a memorable connection to Odisha and his athletic record feat in Cuttack in 1958 was a prelude to the ‘Flying Sikh’ becoming the first Indian athlete to win a gold medal at the Commonwealth Games.
Singh, who had narrowly missed out on an Olympic medal, finishing fourth at the 400m final of the 1960 Rome Games, had a record-shattering feat in Cuttack in 1968 in the 200 metres and 400 metres race in the National Games.
“1958 was a glorious one for me; one that I firmly believe was the year of my destiny. My coach was an American called Dr Howard, who taught me an advanced technique of taking a start. Once again, there was the usual cyclone of events”, Singh wrote in his autobiography “The Race of My Life”.
My demanding routine had brought the expected results and I was a running machine, breaking the records I had set the previous year – clocking 46.2 seconds for 400 meters and 21.2 seconds for 200 meters – at the National Games held at the Barabati stadium in Cuttack, Singh had stated in his autobiography.
“Other runners lagged far behind me. Seemingly, I had broken the previous Asian record in 400 meters, but I found my new record hard to believe and requested the National Games organizing committee to measure the track again. They did so and I was assured that my timings were correct”, according to the autobiographical account of India’s first sporting icon and superstar.