Milkha Singh wants Bharat Ratna for golden boy Bindra

August 11th, 2008 - 7:43 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Abhinav Bindra

New Delhi, Aug 11 (IANS) If legendary Olympian runner Milkha Singh had his way, Abhinav Bindra would get the country’s highest civilian honour Bharat Ratna for winning India its first individual gold medal. “I am so happy. My dream to see India win an individual gold medal in the Olympics before I die has been fulfilled,” an emotional Milkha Singh told IANS over the phone from Chandigarh after Bindra Monday won the 10-metre air rifle event at Beijing, India’s first Olympic gold in 28 years.

Recalling his personal experience at the Rome Olympics in 1960 when he narrowly lost the bronze, Milkha Singh said Bindra’s success seemed to have given him his “lost medal” back.

“Bindra’s feat makes me feel like I have got my Olympics medal back. His success is an inspiration to young sportspersons and especially the Olympics team there to do their best. If you ask me, Bindra should be awarded the Bharat Ratna once he is back home,” he said.

For double trap shooter Ronjan Singh Sodhi, Bindra’s success proved that those who didn’t have faith in the Olympics team were wrong.

“I have always told people that one can’t say how many medals can be won, but that doesn’t mean that you are any less hardworking. Abhinav worked hard for four years for this one day, and he did it,” Sodhi said.

“I would also say that Abhinav had luck on his side. He went with an aggressive mindset first and then became defensive, which worked for him. Let’s just hope that we get more medals. Those like (badminton player) Saina Nehwal, for instance, are doing very well,” he added.

Indian Olympic Association (IOA) chief Suresh Kalmadi had earlier described Bindra was the new icon for the Indian youth.

“It’s a great day in the history of Indian sports. Finally, we have won an individual gold. The last time we saw a gold medal was when the Indian hockey team won it in 1980. (The) youth in the country have got a new icon in Abhinav Bindra. I hope they will now be drawn more towards Olympic sports,” he said.

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