Source: The Hitavada      Date: 18 Dec 2017 12:36:25

THE legendary sportsperson Milkha Singh is more than right when he insists that athletics is the backbone of all sports and demands better facilities to children with talent so that they come up in athletics by world standards. There is much substance in this demand from more angles than just one. Any country that pays appropriate attention to athletics paves its way to become a sports superpower. So, when Milkha Singh asks for better facilities to athletics, he is actually implying that those facilities would create better sportspersons in all branches. For, what is needed in any and every branch of sports is the highest level of athleticism and fitness. And since only athletics give that, Milkha Singh is asking for better facilities to Indian children so that they learn to win medals at all levels and in all branches of sports. It is from this standpoint that Milkha Singh has called athletics “backbone of all sports”. 

We must admit that India is doing better increasingly in all sports and medals, too, are coming in, boosting the overall national morale. However, this is far below the basic levels of satisfaction as a country to call itself truly a sporting nation. This can be achieved if India -- the Government and the society -- starts paying a very keen attention to athletics as the basic sport to be introduced for serious introduction at school level across the country. What this will require is not just the money but the mindset. When a person like Milkha Singh makes a specific demand, he also implies a lot of silent suggestions. It is time the Government listened to him in all seriousness.

Why Milkha Singh calls athletics the backbone of all sports, is clear from the fact that when he was preparing for World Championship title match, chess legend Vishwanathan Anand was photographed on a beach engaged in serious long-distance jogging. A scribe asked him why he was expending his energies in just running as part of his preparations. Anand replied, as reported in some sections of the media, in effect, ‘You know, very good physical fitness gives me strength and stamina to last gruelling chess matches that tend to take hours on end with all action taking place only in the head. In such a condition, when you are extremely fit physically, you have a greater stamina to last any length of the encounter’.

These words of Vishwanathan Anand indicate the importance of athleticism and thereby of athletics as the real backbone of all sports. It is because of this reason that the Government will do well to take Milkha Singh’s advice most seriously in the right earnest. If India starts paying correct attention to athletics, its sporting prowess will go up automatically. This is, thus, a simple but very effective formula for enhancement in sports.