Life during lockdown

For Flying Sikh, self-discipline is the key to fitness

90-year-old former sprinter Milkha Singh follows a strict routine, spends quality time with family in home confines

Deepankar Sharda

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 6

The 90-year-old former sprinter Milkha Singh has not restricted his quarantine period just to reading books or performing regular prayers. Instead, he was quick to make a schedule for spending this 21-day lockdown period in the most efficient way — as he always likes — high on energy.

“Fitness is the most important shield for one’s body. The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has destroyed many, but it has also taught us the importance of living a healthy and simple life. I urge everyone to include regular exercise in their daily schedule,” said Milkha.

He starts his day by attending a gym session with his 48-year-old son Jeev Milkha Singh, a noted international golfer, at his Sector 8 residence. The father-son duo spends good time sweating it out on the treadmill before stretching, skipping and weight training exercises.

“I always want to stay fit and this can only be possible through sheer hard work. I am doing as much I can at this age,” said the Flying Sikh.

He said, “Earlier, I used to play golf or jog daily. But now with this lockdown in place, I spend most of my mornings exercising at home. After gym, my family performs jumping exercises and mild yoga.”

If the gym session is not enough, the veteran athlete plays basketball with his 10-year-old grandson Harjai Milkha Singh — which he believes is the toughest part of the day. “There’s no competition with him... he is the best without any doubt,” laughed Milkha.

“Half of the day, I am busy doing physical activities. Eating less is also one of my secrets to remain fit. It’s been 30 years now that I am following a strict diet. Eat good and live light is the only mantra that keeps my digestive system healthy. I advise all to also follow the same,” said Milkha.

In the afternoon, the family plays card games. “We usually play rummy after lunch. Jeev and I talk about sports and Harjai gives us a patient hearing. It’s good to remember old days,” he said.

He also gives a piece of advice to the parents... “This is the perfect time to teach your kids about the rich history of Indian sportspersons.

Children should watch some inspirational movies to know the importance and struggle of a sportsperson. Good things start in a nick of time and for many parents this is the right moment.”

He spends most of his evenings beholding paintings made by his daughter-in-law Kudrat, taking knitting lessons from his wife Nirmal Milkha Singh and talking to his friends over the phone.

His wife and former Indian volleyball team captain Nirmal also takes inspiration from Milkha when it comes to fitness. “We have tried to change our schedule and so far, it’s good to remain safe at home. Not only they (Milkha and Jeev), but I also exercise regularly. I perform yoga and my routine includes knitting, talking to friends and reading books,” said the 85-year-old, who remained the UT Director, Sports, from 1984 to 1993.

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