KUALA LUMPUR: Former Olympic sprinter Datuk Dr M. Jegathesan, whose 200m national record set 40 years ago in the 1964 Tokyo Olympics still stands, has been chosen as one of five sports heroes to represent Malaysia in the Athens Olympics torch relay in Crete Island in Greece on July 10.
Dr Jegathesan, the deputy president of the Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM), is also the chef-de-mission of the Malaysian contingent to the Athens Games from Aug 13-29.
The other four past and present athletes nominated for the torch relay are former national football skipper Datuk Son Chin Aun, ex-national swimmer Nurul Huda Abdullah, shuttler Wong Choon Hann and squash player Nicol David.
All were present at yesterdays press conference except for Nicol who is currently training in Holland.
Besides the five athletes, Samsung have also included five members of their Famemas Supporters Group for the torch relay.
The five Famemas supporters who will take part in the 300m run are Lee Hui Seng, Bryan Lee Boon Kiang, Jayapragas Gnaniah and Dinesh Sai Menon.
Dr Jegathesan is the only Malaysian to win the mens 200m event in the Asian Games he won twice, in the 1962 Jakarta Games and 1966 Bangkok Games.
Dr Jegathesan also had the honour of carrying the Olympic torch in 1964 around the Merdeka Stadium when the torch made its way to the Tokyo Olympics that year.
Dr Jegathesan was also the first national athlete to enter the semi-finals in the Tokyo Games in which he clocked his national record of 20.92 in the 200m.
In the Bangkok Games, he won three golds in the 100m, 200m and 4x100m.
In 1967, he graduated as a medical doctor and worked three decades with the Ministry of Health as the deputy director-general.
Dr Jegathesan said it was an honour for him to carry the torch in Greece, the birthplace of the Olympics.
The offer to be the torch bearer again is difficult to refuse. I was an athlete when the first time I was selected to run in the 1964 Olympic Torch Relay.
This time, I have been nominated by the Malaysian public to be a torch bearer. It's nice to be still remembered for my contribution to sports, said Dr Jegathesan.
He added that qualifying into the Olympic Games today is considered a great achievement for national athletes.
During my time, there was no qualifying mark. We were selected based on our performances.
Now, the athletes have to earn their places on merit.
The good thing is those who qualified for the Olympics are funded by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), said Dr Jegathesan. In my time, we had to look for our own sponsors.