IT has been an eventful week
and I really don’t know where to start.
It has been a week of
blessings, honouring and recognising past heroes and losing dear friends.
I’m indeed lucky to be writing
this column as I was involved in a nasty car accident when I was driving to
Alor Star on Saturday for the Kedah Sports Personalities Recognition night
organised by former members of the Garuda Athletics Club, led by former
president R. J. Naidu.
I was travelling with former
double international (football and hockey) V. Kalimutu, when the car turned
turtle after it skidded near Sungai Perak.
The car, my son’s, was a total
wreck and we miraculously escaped unscathed.
We returned to Kuala Lumpur
shaken, but the next day I flew to Kedah as I didn’t want to miss the event.
I’m glad I was present for this
meaningful ceremony organised by Naidu, a former sports stringer for New Straits Times.
Naidu and his team had
shortlisted 68 recipients comprising teachers, coaches, officials and athletes
from various sports from 1950s to 1980s to honour and recognise their tireless
It was an effort by a group of
sports enthusiast who financed the event with contributions from well-wishers
and supporters of Kedah sports.
Garuda Athletics Club were
active in the early 1970s and Naidu organised a reunion dinner 15 months ago
for about 50 ex-runners and officials.
This year, Naidu came up with
the idea of recognising past Indian athletes, coaches, officials and teachers
who had brought honour to Kedah.
With support of Datuk D.
Senthinathan, R. Soundrarajan (KIA president), Dr K. Gunasegaran (Kedah AAA
president), Dr P. Ravinderan, Dr N. Selvaraja (vice-president Special Olympics
Kedah), M. Uthaya Sanker (vice-president Kedah Sports Council), L. Yogeswaran,
Dr K. Pannirselvam, and N. Rajagopal, they raised the funds.
Naidu was a product of Garuda
Athletics Club, which was formed in 1970 by peace corps volunteer Douglas A Rae
with Naidu and officials like Cikgu Halim, Zulkifli Abdul Rahman, Lee Kooi
Tong, and Lee Peng Fook.
Among the athletes with the
club at that time included Datuk Senthinathan, Soundrarajan, George Daniel
(national runner) , M. Subramaniam, G. Krishnasamy, S. Balakrishnan (national
runner), Mohamad Zain, Azizan Pawanteh, Tan Boon Leong and S. Gopalakrishnan.
During the function, about
RM3,000 was collected to be donated equally to a badminton academy run by Kedah
Indian Association, football training centre for Indian juniors, jerseys for
the Barathi Primary Tamil School, jerseys for a sepak takraw team of a Tamil
school in Sungai Petani and cash to three students for tertiary education.
Many paid tribute to their
teachers who were passionate and made sacrifices to ensure their athletes or
That there were even sepak
takraw players who played for the state and nation, underlined everyone played
every sport at a time when sports had no barrier for race, creed or culture.
Among those present were
Olympians M. Mahendran and his brother Surenthiran and Mohinder Singh.
Two days after the event we
shed tears as P. Solomon, an athletics official who was honoured the night
before, passed away.
While sad, many felt Solomon,
79, could not have left in a better way having met many of his friends and
being honoured for his contribution to sports.
Master of ceremony Gopala
Krishnan read out Solomon’s credit: “Solomon served Kedah AAA in many capacities
and Malaysian AAU (now MAF) as technical committee chairman for 23 years.
“He was elected to the IAAF
technical committee in 1987 and remained there till 2007.
“He was the first Malaysian to
officiate at the Olympics Games beginning in Seoul in 1988, followed by
Barcelona in 1992, and Atlanta in 1996 .
“He also assisted in the World
Athletic Championships in Tokyo in 1991, Stuttgart in 1993, Gothenburg in 1995,
Seville in 1999, Edmonton in 2001 and Helsinki in 2005.
“His Asian Games assignments
stretched 20 years beginning in Seoul in 1986, followed by Beijing, Hiroshima,
Bangkok, Busan and ended in Doha in 2006.”
I had a chat with Solomon that
night and was shocked to hear from Naidu he had passed on. Rest in peace
Then on Tuesday evening, I received
news my dear friend and fellow sports journalist, Dan Guen Chin had also passed
I had visited him several times
since he feel ill last June.
The last time we met was a
fortnight ago and being a fighter, I was confident he would pull through.
Dan and I covered the Sydney
Olympics 2000 and have known each other for 40 years.
We covered many SEA Games and
other international and local events.
He has gone too early and I am
going to miss him greatly.
Without doubt, the sports
fraternity is going to miss his straight forward, hard hitting reports.
He never tolerated nonsense
from officials or athletes.
It is going to be a painful to
bid my final farewell to him tomorrow in Johor Baru.
The week has indeed been trying
for me, but the lesson from it is not to take anything for granted.
Always be appreciative of every
little thing. Always respect and honour people who have contributed to sports
in any small way to make it a joyous occasion for many.
TONY is a sports journalist
with close to four decades’ experience and is passionate about local sports.
He can be reached at
Athletics — Athletes:
M. Sivaperagasam, G. Krishansamy (athlete and official), R. Veerayah, Abimanan
Yaganathan, K. Gunalan (golf), George Daniel, S. Balakrishnan, R. Muniandy, M.
Ravintheran, S Ganesan.
P. Solomon, S. Padamanathan, S. Govindarajoo, K. Segaran Nair (coach), Bachan
Singh Johl (cricket and hockey).
Badminton — Players: David
Gandhi, N. Rajagopal.
Boxing — Gopala
Krishnan (boxer and official)
Cricket — Players: Didar
Singh, C. Sivanandan (teacher), D. Rathakrishnan, Raman Nair, Dorai Raju,
Amarjit Singh (hockey).
Football — Players: P.
Pathmanathan, S. Vijian, P. Balakrishnan (coach), P. Ganasamurthy (coach), M.
Singaram, S. Ragesh, K. Ravichandran, Victor Audrag, V. Thinagaran.
Golf — Player: S.
Hockey — Players: Phag
Singh, D. Subramaniam,
S. Satish Kumar (official), S. Sanjilatheeban (official), Richard Fernandez,
Hong Chu Liang
@ Ravi, K .Kamarajan (cricket and official), James M Stephen(cricket), David
Ebenezer (athletics and coach), R. Hagappa, Edwin Lambert (athletics),
M.Subramaniam (coach), M. Surenthiran, M. Suriaprakash, Mohinder Singh, M.
Mahendran, Ron Thiagaraja (official).
Ramadass, Utam Singh,
Dr R Sivabala
Karate — M. Suresh
(exponent and official).
Sepak takraw — Players:
Retnam, P. Ramanathan, Y. Anbarasan, Rajendran Pillay, S. Sarawana, S.