Hyderabad: Very few people know about the existence of Milkha Singh Colony in the serene ambience of EME Centre in the Secunderabad Cantonment area. Named after the legendary athlete, it has great significance as it was here that Singh, who missed a bronze medal by a whisker in the 400m event at the 1960 Rome Olympics, had his baptism in athletics.
He would run every morning from his barracks which would be in the cantonment area. “I feel very happy that they have named a colony after me,” said the ‘Flying Sikh’ from Chandigarh.
Getting nostalgic, the 90-year-old said he had very fond memories of Secunderabad and Hyderabad. “I was in Secunderabad from 1952 to 1960 when I was recruited in EME Centre.”
Milkha Singh said the time spent honing his skills during his days spent at the Secunderabad Cantonment helped him win medals and laurels in Asian Games and Commonwealth Games. “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 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.
Milkha Singh revealed 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. 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.”
Milkha Singh is doubly happy that they have named a stadium after him at 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.”
Milkha’s son Jeev Milkha Singh, an ace golfer, when told about this colony, said: “‘Excellent. I am very proud of what he has done for the nation. It is indeed a memorable landmark.”
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