Indias oldest national record falls
by Norris Pritam
A 38-year-old Indian national record was broken on November 4 in the Indian National Open Athletics Meet at the eastern city of Calcutta.
A Police officer, 26-year-old Paramjeet Singh, clocked 45.70 seconds to erase Milkha Singh's national mark of 45.73 in 400 metres. Milkha Singh had set the record of 45.6 seconds at the Rome Olympics in 1960 where the Indian runner had finished fourth. (The original time of 45.6 was hand-timed, but the race was also timed by a completely automatic electric system and was subsequently established by this system to be 45.73 ndr)
At Rome, Milkha Singh had run on a cinder track and his performance was recorded manually. But Paramjeet had the benefit of running on a synthetic track with electronic timers in operation.
Reacting to Paramjeet's performance, 66-year-old Milkha Singh today said ``I have my doubts if this can be treated as a national record. How can manual timings and electronic performances be compared.'' Obviously Milkha doesn't know the conversion of manual performances to the electronic ones.
A retired Director of Sports, Punjab State Government, Milkha had offered to give one lakh of rupees (roughly 3000 US dollars) to any Indian breaking his record. Despite having doubts about Paramjeet's performance, Milkha said he would still give the said amount to Paramjeet. He, however, cautioned that the real test for Paramjeet would be the upcoming Asian Games at Bangkok in December.
Norris Pritam is sports editor of TVI, New Delhi