FORMER national track athlete Nordin Mohamed Jadi has chosen a path many elite athletes have ignored.
The 200m and 400m track star of the 1980s dedicated his life to athletics even after hanging up his spikes internationally in 1991 and nationally in 1994.
The 52-year-old father of four (three girls and a boy) is employed by Maybank, but is actively involved in the development of athletes in Johor.
Nordin with some of the athletes training under him.
His passion is so great that after coaching in Muar, Batu Pahat and Kluang, he formed the Nordin Jadi Athletics Club in 2005.
“I wanted to do more for Johor and to give back to the sport which brought me fame,” said Nordin who competed in two Olympics — Los Angeles in 1984 and Seoul in 1988 and three Asian Games — 1982 (New Delhi), 1986 (Seoul) and 1990 (Beijing).
“The club concept was dying. Many of our top athletes in the past came through clubs such as Jets, Lights, Panthers, Pelanduk, Prisons and Government Services Sport Club,” said Nordin who competed in six SEA Games from 1981 to 1991.
“I was also roped in by Johor Sports Council (JSC) to do an athletics programme from 2002. This allowed me to expand my programmes to more districts and schools,” said the bespectacled athlete who won gold in 400m at the 1985 and 1987 SEA Games in Bangkok and Jakarta respectively and 4x400m at the 1987 and 1989 Kuala Lumpur Games.
Nordin also won silver medals at the 1987 Asian Track and Field Championships in Singapore in the 400m and 4x400m and has a personal best of 21.4s for the 200m set in 1983 and 46.56s for the 400m set in 1987.
He was also involved in football as the fitness coach with the Johor team coached by Karl Weigang in 2003 and 2004 and the Johor futsal team in 2007 and was Malaysia’s flag bearer for the opening ceremony of the Seoul Olympics.
Nordin started an academy at the Larkin Stadium a year ago, but it was short-lived as the stadium was taken over by the Johor Darul Takzim football team.
He now moves around the districts and has weekend programmes in Kluang.
“I have about 20 athletes under me, while many others train under various programmes in their districts,” he said.
Nordin is also in charge of the Johor athletics programme for the Malaysia Games (Sukma).
1987 Sea Games 4x400m gold medalists (Standing from left): Andrew Scully, Nordin Jadi, Johari (official), Ratna Dewi, Rashid Haron (coach), Joseph Phan and Ismail Hashim. Squatting (from left): Sajaratultudur, Josephine Mary and Oon Yee Chan
“JSC has been very supportive and gives RM500,000 for a two-year programme for each Sukma. I have a panel of coaches and we have been able to reach more athletes.”
Nordin who has always kept a low-profile, said he preferred working at the grassroots although it was hard work and not glamorous.
“It is satisfying to see your athletes grow and make their mark. It may be a long process and sometimes your work is not recognised, but I am not affected by it.
“I just want to give back to the sport all that I have learnt as a national athlete,” said Nordin who attained a Level 3 specifics coaching certificate and has been coach of the Johor Sukma team from 2001.
His other coaching experience include being the national coach for the Asian Youth Championships in 2004 in Ipoh.
“Athletes these days do not have goals and ambitions. They are not prepared to work hard or make sacrifices,” moaned Nordin.
“But I ensure athletes who come under my programme adhere to my philosophy of ‘commitment, attitude, performance’. ” Nordin’s ambition is to see his club produce a steady supply of athletes for state and country.
“Those years we had to fight hard to get a place for any event. It is sad now even at the SEA Games level, we cannot field athletes in all events.
“Something drastic needs, but it cannot be achieved overnight.
“It has to be a long-term programme. We cannot continue to have short-term programmes. And if we do not work hard at the grassroots — especially at the schools — we are going to continue to face disappointment,” said Nordin.
With many state associations and even the national body not doing enough, it is time former athletes emulate Nordin’s example.