New Delhi, Aug 6 (UNI) At a time when the whole nation is expecting medals at Beijing, legendary athlete 'Flying Sikh' Milkha Singh's outburst that the Indians will return empty handed from the Olympics, could bury the hopes of millions in the country.
A disappointed Milkha Singh, while speaking to newspersons here last night said, ''I have been following the progress of many athletes in the country and there are a few names like Akhil Kumar in Boxing, but honestly speaking I don't expext any medals from the Indians in Olympics.'' ''There are a few events like shooting, boxing and archery where I think India can do well but winning a medal is certainly not the cards,'' he added.
The 1958 'Padam Shri' awardee said the standard of Indian athletes has been on a downhill.
He claimed that Anju Bobby George, who at one stage was considered as the best bet for India to bag a medal at the Olympics, is living only by her past records and shrugged off her chances to finish amongst the top three in the long jump event.
''Her (Anju Bobby George) peak time is over. She hasn't been able to surpass her best jump which itself was a few marks behind the standards of Olympics.
''In the last Oylmpics, her best performance was 6.84 m, but she has not repeated that performance in the last four years, so I don't have any expectations from her.
''So how can one think that she will do wonders overnight at the Beijing Olympics. In fact the 16 other athletes who have gone with her are more promising than her,'' he noted.
Milkha Singh, who ran barefooted to break the Olympic record in the 400 m in 1960, had a few words of praise for the relay team whom he consideres as a good enough force to reach the finals.
''Our relay team has done well in the recent past. If they can get into the final, it would be a great achievement. But I believe if we have any chance to fetch a medal or two it could be in shooting, archery and tennis.
''Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi, who play well together, have a good chance of getting a medal but whether they manage to get one, still remains to be seen,'' he added.
The legendary athlete also slamed the Indian Olympic Committee for the poor standard of the athletes in the country and questioned the the governing body's capability to host the 2010 Commonwealth Games which are scheduled to be held in the capital.
''Everybody knows that we are hosting the Commonwelath Games in 2010 but I am very disappointed with the training of the athletes for the event.
''Four years ago, I told Suresh Kalmadi and the then Chief of Army staff Col JJ Singh to give the charge of the athletes training part to the army, but till date nothing has happened,'' he said.
UNI RAR CS HT1455