FORMER international Jagjit Singh has undertaken to play an active role in the promotion and development at the grassroots of race walking.
Jagjit, one of the coaches at the National Sports Council (NSC), recently conducted a coaching clinic at the SJK (T) Kajang and made the pledge.
The former walker, who had represented Malaysia at the SEA Games, Asian Championships and World Cup, spent almost two hours with 50 pupils from the school, sharing his experiences and bidding to get them interested in the sport.
He was assisted at the clinic by Adnan Mohamed, an active walker in Masters competitions.
Jagjit said he was keen to see more schoolchildren getting involved in race walking, adding “Malaysia were once the kingpins in South-East Asia.
“But today we have lost ground to other countries in the region and if we don’t encourage the young boys and girls now, we will not see Malaysian walkers on the international scene.
“Being part of this programme is my contribution to the sport.
“With proper guidance and long-term training programmes, I am confident we will see some of these boys and girls earning their stripes,” said Jagjit.
The clinic in Kajang started with Jagjit explaining the opportunities available in race walking.
“First, you will be involved in an active and healthy activity,” he pointed out.
“And if you can progress as a race walker you will win medals and also represent your school, district and state in competitions. There is also the chance of you being drafted into national squads.
“But all this will not come easy. You have to train regularly and have the commitment to achieve your goals. I see a lot of enthusiasm in you and I hope you all will continue training and invite your parents to join you in training.
“Parents can also take up walking as a form of exercise and participate in our events,” said Jagjit.
The participants at the clinic went through a warm-up session before Jagjit and Adnan demonstrated various walking skills. They also invited the young athletes to join in.
The Kajang clinic ended with a mini competition, during which both Adnan and Jagjit monitored the participants’ capabilities and handed out a few tips for them to improve.
The clinic, supported by Milo, was organised by the Race Walkers Association of Malaysia (RWAM) as part of their junior development programme.
RWAM deputy president Khoo Chong Beng said they had initiated a series of coaching clinics to encourage children to take up race walking.
“We initiated similar clinics in schools in Putrajaya and Kuala Lumpur, and we are also organising a three-leg junior walking circuit.
“We expect the children who attended the clinics to join the circuit,’’ said Chong Beng.
SJK (T) Kajang athletic coach K. Nedinchelian said they were thankful to RWAM for organising the clinic.
“The two coaches certainly were an inspiration to the children. We are keen to invite one of them to coach the children regularly,’’ said Nedincheliyan. “The boys and girls are excited, and we are keen to continue the training programme.”
Jagjit and Adnan also selected 10 pupils — six boys and four girls — to join the RWAM junior circuit to be held on April 5. The boys are S. Yathindraa, K. Yeshwin, P Mathes, V. Yugendrean, V. Yogeswaran and S. Thangaraj, while the girls are M. Thinesha, M. Divya, K, Gayathryi and R. Jivashini.
Chong Beng said they were pleased to conduct coaching clinics in schools.
“But we would like a commitment from them to continue the training programmes and participate in the junior circuit as well,” he added.