Track legend Dr Jegathesan hopes past achievements will spur our athletes on

KUALA LUMPUR: Sprint legend Tan Sri Dr M. Jegathesan (pic) hopes that the achievements of past track and field athletes will inspire the current generation to strive to be the overall champions at the KL SEA Games in August.

“Athletics was in its heyday in the early editions of the Games. We reached a high in the 1965 SEAP Games when KL hosted it. We won a total of 19 gold medals (out of 42 in). We also did well in subsequent Games at home,” said Jegathesan, a doctor by profession.

“But in the last few Games, we’ve been scraping for four or five gold medals.

“I hope that past glories of our SEA Games at home will be a reminder that we can do well here again. This is the time ... it’s long overdue.”

In previous Games hosted in Kuala Lumpur, athletics contributed 14 gold medals 1971, 12 each in 1977 and 1989 and eight in 2001.

Jegathesan, fondly nicknamed the Flying Doctor, made his international breakthrough at the 1961 SEAP Games – as the competition was known then – in Myanmar, where he won gold medals in 200m, 400m and 4x400m.

He also won the 100m and 200m golds at the 1965 SEAP Games before going on to win three golds at the 1966 Asian Games in Bangkok.

He went on to make history for Malaysia by qualifying for the 200m semi-finals of the Olympic Games – in Mexico City in 1968.

He had earlier competed in two other Olympic Games – Rome 1960 and Tokyo 1964.

Istiaq Mobarak is the other track and field athlete to have made the Olympic semi-finals in the 110m hurdles at the 1972 Munich Games.

The 73-year-old Jegathesan, who is chairman of the Olympic Council of Asia medical committee, said that athletics was one of the several outdoor sports that has lost its appeal to young Malaysians.

“Athletics has been in a hiatus for a long time. For some reasons, Malaysian youths have shied away from this sport, which needs three to four hours of outdoor training daily,” he said during the launch of the book on the late Tan Sri Datuk G.S. Gill yesterday.

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Sport , Athletics , SEA Games , Dr Jegathesan