New Delhi: Legendary athlete Milkha Singh says he does not hanker after awards and is happy with the Padma Shri he received from the government way back in 1958 after winning the Commonwealth Games gold medal.
"I don`t hanker after awards. Everybody knows Milkha deserves more than a Padma Shri, but it is for others, including the federation, to nominate me to the government for higher awards," Milkha told PTI on the sidelines of a programme here.
"I am happy with the Padma Shri. What difference does it make to me if I am now given a higher Padma Award? The people of India knows my achievements. I did not want to run around for a Padma Bhushan or Vibhushan," he said when asked about demands for Padma Awards by sportspersons.
A higher category of Padma Award can be conferred on a person only when a period of at least five years has elapsed since conferment of the earlier Padma award. However, in highly deserving cases, a relaxation can be made by the Awards Committee.
Milkha was here to inaugurate Sports Injury Clinic at the BLK Super Speciality Hospital, touted to be the first integrated facility of this kind in the NCR (National Capital Region) by a private hospital.
The `Flying Sikh`, who is still the first Indian sportsperson to have won an individual gold medal in Commonwealth Games (in 400m in Cardiff in 1958), does not blame the government for not producing world class track and field athletes.
"The government does a lot, ranging from providing the infrastructure to financial support for training etc. In our time, we didn`t get these facilities. Current athletes are getting all these.
"Yet, another Milkha Singh has not been produced in the country in nearly 60 years after me. I will say that the federation and the athletes were also to take some of the blame. Not all, but some athletes are lacking in commitment," he said.
Milkha also said that he did not want to become sports administrator as there were "a lot of dirt" in federations.
"There is dirty politics in sports federations. Politicians or well connected people will try to get hold of federations and they don`t think about sportspersons. If I contest elections in a federation, I will not get even four votes. It`s all politics and money."
Talking about the new facility at the hospital, Milkha said, "In the last 55 years, ever since I won the historic gold medal, the world of sports has changed tremendously. Today it is much more competitive. To catch up with the rest of the world and produce geniuses in sports, we must have high-end training and medical facilities like these specialised clinics.
"I am delighted that BLK Super Speciality Hospital is launching this much-needed comprehensive clinic, which shall serve the specialised needs of the aspiring sportspersons of the country," he said.
Dr Yash Gulati, who will head the clinic, said the new facility aims to provide integrated surgical, physiotherapy, diagnostic and rehabilitative facilities, and services under one roof for specialised treatment of sports injuries and other orthopaedic disorders.
"The clinic will focus on Pain Management, Physiotherapy and Rehabilitation, Sports Psychology, Sports Nutrition and will offer advice, diagnosis and comprehensive treatment for sports related problems," said Dr Gulati.