‘Milkha Singh’s dream has been fulfilled’: Neeraj Chopra dedicates Olympic gold to India’s sprint legend

Tokyo/New Delhi: Newly-crowned Olympic gold-medallist Neeraj Chopra on Saturday dedicated his historic achievement to sprint legend Milkha Singh, who died of COVID-19 in June, a gesture that left his son and ace golfer Jeev Milkha Singh overwhelmed with “eternal” gratitude.

“Milkha Singh wanted to hear the national anthem in a stadium. He is no longer with us but his dream has been fulfilled,” the 23-year-old javelin thrower said dedicating the achievement to the iconic sprinter, who had finished fourth in the 1960 Rome Olympics.

Milkha, 91, breathed his last in Chandigarh in June after battling COVID-19 for a month. 

Chopra produced a second round throw of 87.58m in the finals at the Tokyo Games to claim the country’s first track-and-field medal and become only the second Indian to win an individual gold in the Olympics. 

“Dad waited so many years for this to happen. His dream has finally come true with India’s first athletic gold. I am crying as I tweet this. And I am sure dad is crying up above. Thank you for making this happen,” Jeev wrote.

“Not only did you win us a first-ever athletics gold medal in the #OlympicGames, you even dedicated it to my father. The Milkha family is eternally grateful for this honour,” he added.

The iconic sprinter, who was fondly known as the ‘Flying Sikh’, had often talked about his deep desire to see an Indian win a track and field Olympic medal.

At the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, PT Usha came close to winning a medal in women’s 400m hurdles but, like Milkha, finished fourth.

About Chopra’s feat, Jeev later told PTI in Chandigarh,”…It is an emotional moment for me because all the memories come back.”

“Neeraj Chopra is a true champion. He dedicated the medal to my father. This speaks volumes of the gentleman. Generally, after winning a gold medal, that too at Olympic level, one thinks about his parents and family, but he thought about my father and I will remember this for the rest of my life,” Jeev said.

Jeev said had his father and mother Nirmal Kaur, who also died due to COVID-related complications, been alive today they would have been very happy watching Chopra win gold and other players doing well at the Olympics.

“Every Olympics, they used to watch on TV and never missed a game. Be it hockey, athletics, they used to watch keenly and discuss in the evening,” he said.

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