Friday, October 28, 2016




Level Field

AS Deepavali is celebrated tomorrow, it may not be inappropriate to remember the many Indian Malaysians who have done the nation proud as athletes and sports administrators.
Sports is supposed to be race, colour and creed-blind. But in this instance, I depart from these strictures to hail the contributions of Malaysian Indian sports figures, if only because there is now a dearth, perhaps even a virtual absence of them as seen in the national contingent to the Rio Olympics.
The Malaysian contingent to the 1968 Mexico Olympics had 45 Indians out of 60 athletes and officials.
What may be the reasons for the decline?
Speaking to several veteran Indian sports figures, I inferred a slew of causes for this diminution.
One factor is the shift in priority among parents who are more interested to see their children become educated than give priority to sports.
A veteran sports administrator blames the disappearance on the schools.
He moaned the lack of proper facilities and rarity of dedicated sports-oriented school teachers and general marginalisation of Indians.
He feels there is plenty of talent out there that is not being tapped.
Yes, we have the MIC Youth under Datuk T. Mohan doing their bit, the Malaysian Indian Sports and Cultural Foundation (MISCF), and Malaysian Indian Football Association (Mifa).
It would be good to engage former athletes and administrators to helm development programmes or be involved in coaching.
Money should be invested to set up academies to train the best boys and girls and place them in nearby schools where their education can be monitored.
When sports were competed for pride more than payment, a legion of Indian Malaysians carved their niche in the Olympic Hall of Fame.
These included the late N. M. Vasagam, late A. Shanmuganathan (A S Nathan) K. Aryadurai, late Datuk G. S. Kler, Tan Sri Dr M. Jegathesan, Datuk Nashatar Singh, Datuk M. Rajamani, G. Rajalingam, T. Krishnan, Lt. Cdr. Karu Selvaratnam, V. Angamah, G. Saravan (athletics), late Datuk Punch Gunalan, Datuk James Selvaraj (badminton), Datuk Dr P. S. Nathan (bowling), late Tiger Aman (boxing), late Lall Singh, Datuk Prof Emeritus Dr A. E. Delikan, Hector Durairatnam, Banarji Nair, Gurcharan Singh (cricket), late Datuk Paul Murugasu, Datuk Peter Velappan, late Edwin Dutton, N. Thanabalan, Datuk M. Karathu, Datuk M. Chandran, Datuk Santokh Singh, late Datuk R. Arumugam, V. Krishnasamy, S. Kathrivale (football), Tan Sri P Alagendra, Datuk G. Vijayanathan, S. Perampalam, Datuk Roy Rajasingham, C. Paramalingam, Datuk R. Yogeswaran, Datuk N. Sri Shamuganathan, K. Balasingam, S. Balasingam, N. Palanisamy, M. Mahedran, R. Rama Krishnan, R. Pathmarajah, Arulraj Michael, N. Palanisamy, Franco D’Cruz, Rani Kaur (hockey), Tan Sri Darshan Singh, M. Kumarasen (cycling), Datuk A. Vaithilingam (schools and athletics), R. Selvamuthu, M. Vasugi, R. Dhanraj (taekwondo) and R. Punaneswaran (karate).
Other Olympicans include M. Harichandran, late S. Karuppiah, Asirvatham Victor, C. Kunalan, late Dilbagh Singh Kler, R. Subramaniam, G. Rajalingam, S. Sivaraman, P. Peyadesa, B. Rajkumar, Josephine Mary, Annastasia Karen Raj (athletics), G. Ramakrishnan (boxing), late S. Selvanayagam, late T. Nadarajah, late Gian Singh, late P. Sankey, S. Devendran, A. Sabapathy, Kartar Singh, Ranjit Singh, K. Anandarajah, K. Alagaratnam, M. Doraisamy, Tara Singh Sidhu, A. Francis, J. Johnson, Savinder Singh, Kuldip Singh, Harnahal Singh, S. Jeevajothy, Avtar Singh, Anthony Leon Ignas Cruz, Jagjit Singh, M. Suriaprkash, Sarjit Singh, Sukhvinderjeet Singh, Shankar Ramu, M. Sambu, K. Dhamaraj, S. Suria Ghandi, S. Kuhan, M. Kaliswaran, Maninderjit Singh, Aphtar Singh, Jiwa Mohan, K. Keevan Raj, K. Gobinathan (all hockey) and late Moorthy Kanapathy (judo).
Then we had the likes of late Datuk Paul Mony, Datuk Winsdor Paul, Datuk M. Kuppan (football), Datuk Dr Harjit Singh (cricket), V. Nellan, M. Ramayah, P. Gunasegeran (golf), J. V. Jayan (athletics), V. Kalimuthu (football) and Rennie Martin, Anthony Edwin Abraham, V. Subramaniam, K. Jayabalan (athletics) — all of whom earned distinction in their respective fields.
When we have had so many sports icons from the Indian community, it is indeed sad to contemplate their evanescence.
In the feast celebrating the triumph of light over darkness, let’s not confine to the shadows the worth of a legion of valorous performers and contributors who gave much and asked little.

Happy Deepavali!

TONY is a sports
journalist close to
four decades of experience
and is passionate about
local sports.
He can be reached at

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