By Milkha Singh
I first heard about Sachin Tendulkar about 25 years ago. Since then he has gone to make a big name for himself. Whatever he has achieved is a result of his devotion, dedication and hard work. The whole nation knows what he has done and realises its value. Sachin has been truly a phenomenal sportsperson.
Whenever youngsters enter the field, they have idols. For example, whenever any young boy would pick up a hockey stick, he would think of Dhyan Chand. The same can be said about Sachin when it comes to cricket. He is an exemplary role model. He has left an indelible mark on his sport. Earlier, Indian cricket had the likes of Col CK Nayudu and Lala Amarnath, but Sachin has surpassed them with his feats.
When you talk of hockey, you have Dhyan Chand. In athletics, I would be remembered, and in cricket it would be Sachin Tendulkar. There are no doubts that the next generation would be inspired by him and they would progress by following his example.
I have met Sachin quite a few times and whenever I have come across him, he comes and touches my feet. Who would do that today! We have met at Mohali, in flights and in Mumbai, but he never fails to do that. He respects me immensely and treats me like a father figure. He is a very respectful boy and very humble. When some people achieve things, it gets to their head. But not Sachin. He is a very nice person and very down to earth.
The country comes first and foremost. Bringing glory for the nation is very important. That is what Sachin has done over 24 years, showing the way for future generations.
— As told to Nishad Pai Vaidya
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(Milkha Singh is arguably India’s greatest athlete and has won gold medals in the 400 metres category at the Commonwealth Games 1958, Asian Games 1958 and 1962. He is popularly known as “The Flying Sikh” — a title bestowed upon him by former Pakistan President Ayub Khan. At the 1960 Rome Olympics, he reached the final of the 400 metres category and finished in fourth spot —ironically breaking the world record in the process along with the race leaders)