Milkha Singh's nostalgic trip to Hyderabad's EME Artillery Centre

The EME Artillery Centre in Hyderabad was where Milkha Singh began his career as a fresh army recruit; his last visit to the venue was in 2014, when it was named after him.

Milkha Singh looks at the army cap presented to him at the Secunderabad EME Centre, on November 29, 2014. - ARUNANGSU ROY CHOWDHURY

The ‘Flying Sikh’ Milkha Singh had an emotional connect with the city of Hyderabad.

For all those who were assembled at the EME Artillery Centre to have a glimpse of the legendary Milkha Singh on November 29, 2014, the sight of the legendary athlete kissing the ‘hallowed turf’ immediately on stepping into the venue in gratitude and reverence would have been frozen in memory.

Milkha Singh, 86 then, was in the city as the brand ambassador of the Hyderabad 10K Run. He was quite pleased with the venue being named after him even as he recalled his early days, talking about the kind of support he had received from everyone at the EME Centre when he was a fresh Army recruit in 1952.

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“How can I forget this place! It was here in 1952 that I was encouraged to take up athletics thanks to my coach Havaldar Gurudev Singh,” Milkha Singh said then.

Yeh to mujhe Gurudwara Samaan hai (this EME Stadium is equivalent to a Gurdwara to me,” he said, struggling to control his emotions even while having a glimpse of the flower-decked EME Stadium.

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“I never knew about 200m or 400m when I started running here in those days. A group of 10 of us was made to run five km every day with a promise that the best would represent the Indian Army and the country in the competitions. And, I topped the group,” he said then with a big smile.

And, the great athlete took pride in reminding that he raced against time and not against any individual.

Unfortunately, the 2014 visit to the venue turned out to be Milkha Singh's last one, too, to what is the birthplace of someone who went on to redefine excellence in athletics in those days!

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