MY ONLY wish before I die is to see an Asian win an Olympic medal in
I cannot imagine after having come so close 33 years ago, when I
finished fourth in the 400m, that no one has come to achieve it all these
Back home in India, the Government has a standing offer of RM200,000 to
any athlete who can erase my 400m record timing of 45.6s, but no one has
Though I am proud that my record still stands in India, I am sad that no
athlete has come close to it all these years.
And I can only pin the failure to do so with the attitude of present day
What today's athletes fail to realise is achievement in sports has no
price-tags. It has to be worked for with total dedication, determination
Sincerity is the key word in sports, be it an athlete or an official.
We have all the facilities - from big stadiums to modern day equipment
to vitamin supplies - but nothing will be achieved if the athletes
themselves do not work for it.
And it is sad to note that athletes now do not want to work for it.
When I was running I used to train five hours a day, six days a week.
I used to train until I blacked-out and even vomitted blood. After
races, I had to be given oxygen to be revived.
There were no rewards then, but it was just a personal glory
representing the nation that kept us going.
And more important in success was consistentcy.
These days I hear athletes talking about off-seasons and that they have
peaked for a race and will see their performance take a dip before making
an impact again.
I had a stint in Europe for two months once and there I ran in 30 races.
And throughout my athletics career, I had run in 80 international races
and won 77.
At times when there was no meets, I would be running against the clock,
just to ensure that I was still clocking the times I was capable of.
And this I did every week.
At any time, I was invited to run in a race I was ready.
There were many times when after a race I had told myself that it would
be my last because of the pain and torture, but each time I was back on
the tracks because I just loved winning and the thunder of applause.
Training those days and now has not really differed much. Probably
scientific methods are often used now, but still we cannot get good
athletes from Asia.
Those days I used to work on speedwork, strengthen workouts and do
If it was suffice then and I could clock impressive times, I see no
reason why it should be outdated and cannot be applied by athletes these
Then we used to run bare-footed on cinder tracks and it required more
power to run and we could still clock good times.
Now, even with the comfortable tartan tracks which make running a lot
easier, besides giving a bounce which is condusive to clock better times,
achievements are still hard to come by.
Besides the problems of the athletes themselves, I believe officials,
too, have not been playing their role well.
A lot have placed selfinterest above their duties and, more often than
not, neglect the welfare of the athletes.
It is really not so difficult to produce good athletes. All it needs is
good planning and one person with a good acknowledge of the sports in
We cannot have too many people making decisions because this will only
confuse matters and contradict certain issues. We should also be open to
expert advice from coaches who have proven track record especially from
I personally feel that our local coaches lack in many areas like
exposure, usage of latest techniques and, above all, a professional
We should invite foreign coaches and give them long-term contracts to
achieve a definite target.
Remember, athletes cannot be made overnight.
I know that Malaysia are hosting the Commonwealth Games in 1998. Can you
name me an athlete who is being groomed to win a medal at the Games on
your home soil?
I know Malaysia might win medals in other sports like badminton. But a
medal in athletics is something else and, without it, hosting the Games
could well be classified as worthless.
Malaysia should have already identified 13 or 14-year-old athletes and
put them on a five-year programme.
Athletes these days should be making a name for themselves at the age of
18 or 19 and not in the 20s.
I would have loved to see my son, Jeev, take up athletics, so that at
least I would have given a shot at grooming him to do as well if not
better than me.
However, my wife was not keen on him taking up athletics because she
felt that one in the family was enough.
Jeev did well as a school athlete, but he was also good at cricket. But
when he went to study in the US, he decided to take up golf and is now a
As much as I wanted him to take athletics, I did not force him because
it would defeat the purpose.
No athlete should be forced to become one. He must be a willing athlete
and have the desire to work hard and seek glory.
I just hope one such athlete will come up soon in Asia and remind me of
my glorious past before I leave this world.