Milkha had a close affinity with Secunderabad Cantonment

The legendary athlete had first taste of athletics when he was recruited in Army in 1952

Hyderabad: Legendary athlete Milkha Singh, who fell to the dreaded Covid-19 in the early hours of Saturday, had a close affinity to the city of Hyderabad. It was here in this city he had his first taste of athletics at the EME Centre in the Secunderabad Cantonment area.

Incidentally, the army authorities named a colony after India’s greatest sportsman. It is named as Milkha Singh Colony. “ I was recruited in the EME Centre in Secunderabad in 1952,” he said from Chandigarh.

Last year in July, this paper had written a story on this legend and about the colony. He expressed his happiness. “I feel very happy that they have named a colony after me,” said the ‘Flying Sikh’ from Chandigarh.

Milkha, who missed a bronze medal by a whisker in the 400m event at the 1960 Rome Olympics, would run daily in the morning from his barracks

Having fond memories of the Cantonment area, Milkha said he honed his skills during his early days spent at Secunderabad. “It is for the simple reason that the hard work that I put in then laid the foundation for me to grow as an athlete. I still remember the EME Centre. There was a hill (Ammuguda Pahad) near EME Centre where there was a Masjid. I used to climb up the hill carrying a stone-filled bag on my back with the army unit. It was basically to improve my stamina, strength and muscles,” recalled Milkha.

The legendary during the July interview last year recalled that he used to run alongside a train, which ran on the metre gauge then between Bolarum and Ammuguda. “The loco pilot of a particular train used to encourage me a lot and would shout ‘Come on Singh.. Come on Singh. (Bahg Milkha, Bahg Milkha). It was kind of a motivation and I could run for a longer distance. This way, it helped me improve my speed and endurance. When I was doing cross country I used to run around the jungle areas and so I remember the entire EME Centre. I would proudly say that the entire credit should go to the Army, EME and Secunderabad Cantonment. Perhaps, had I not joined the Army I would not have worked so hard. If today I’m known as Milkha Singh or I have brought glory to the country, it is because of the Army and EME Centre. I can never forget these memories,” he said, adding, “I used to purchase clothes and other household items in Bolarum.”

A Stadium was named after the legendary athlete at the EME Centre. “I am happy to have a Milkha Singh Stadium in EME Centre where I trained in 1952-53 which I inaugurated a few years ago. I can’t forget Secunderabad.”

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