Unlike Bollywood, where yesteryear’s iconic actors’ offspring take to the same profession as their parents and perhaps even manage to ‘click’, delivering a few ‘hits’, sports in India hasn’t quite been the same. For instance, Hrithik Roshan, Saif Ali Khan, Kareen Kapoor, Abhishek Bachan, Ranbhir Kapoor, Shahid Kapoor have all made their dads and moms proud by choosing the same profession as theirs and at the same time have found success too.
Sport is a different ball game, perhaps. Sunil Gavaskar’s son Rohan, though playing his dad’s favourite sport, didn’t quite manage to create similar magic. Forget magic, he couldn’t sustain half as long as his dad did on the crease. The same applies to Kris Srikanth’s son and Roger Binny’s son (maybe Senior Binny being a national selector could be of help getting him an India cap, yet whether he will succeed is a question mark).
Making a life-changing decision is never easy. With a legacy to be carried on, kids of star athletes always find themselves in the spotlight. Making comparisons is a constant bother. Leander Paes chose a sport different from his dad’s. He found success in tennis whereas his dad played hockey for India. He’s now in a league of his own. Likewise, Jeev Milkha Singh too never took up his father the ‘Flying Singh’ Milkha Singh’s sport. He didn’t even choose his mother’s game, which is volleyball. His mother Nirmal Kaur captained the Indian volleyball team.
Today, Jeev is one of the most sought after golfers in Asia. He is the recipient of the Padma Shri. He recently finished 22nd in the Canon Open and has several titles in his kitty.
In an off-beat interview with Sportskeeda.com, Junior Milkha Singh talks of the pressure of having a famous father and his decision to choose golf instead of athletics like his father…
Excerpts from an interview.
Your father is perhaps the greatest athlete India has ever produced. Was he ever disappointed when he learnt that you did not want to be an athlete?
On the contrary, he encouraged me to take up the game that I could excel in. I used to be my father’s caddy when he was playing golf and that is how I got interested in golf. When my father learnt of my intention to go for golf he told me that I should play the game I want to. But he told me I have to be number one in whatever sport I chose.
Did you ever feel the pressure of making it big in whatever career you chose especially because your father happens to be a big name in Indian sports?
I guess this is true. Because my father did a lot for the country. Therefore, the people expect the same from me. I don’t mind the pressure so long as I am playing for my country. I want the world to know that there are Indian golfers around who are also good professional golfers. I want to break the myth that golf can be played only by the rich countries. Unfortunately, there is a tendency to look down upon the golfers from the third world countries. We want to tell them that we play good golf. I want the top professional golfers to say that there is a good golf player from India and his name is Jeev Milkha Singh.
Your father believes that it is the pressure of media which prevents you from doing well on the Indian circuit?
The media is the same all over the world. The basic reason why we have pressure on us all the time is because we keep on playing on different courses every week. Every golfer wants to win every week. But this does not happen that way. Nobody can do that. Not even the big names in golf. If you win one tournament in a year, you can say that you have done well. The game is so mental that if you win two tournaments in a year you can say that the year has been good for you.
India does not have too many golfers doing well in the international circuit. There are one-off wins but there’s no consistency in their performance at professional circuit. Your comments…
We have lot of talented golf players in the country. They are doing well but, perhaps, since they are not winning we tend to think that they are not playing as well as they should be playing. The reason why they are not doing well is because of exposure. Perhaps they need to go out and play lot more tournaments. They need to play on bigger circuits. And here they would need the support of sponsors. I wish they have more sponsorship money to take care of their expenses. I am very lucky to have Hero Honda as my sponsors, who back me up all the way to play anywhere in the world. Once that starts happening they would automatically start doing well. Some of those who are doing well in the international golf circuit are Jyoti Randhawa, Arjun Atwal, Gaurav Ghai, Gaganjeet Bhullar. They are all good golfers but they need to go out to play in competitive circuits.