Loughborough University Club Standard: High Standard Posted on October 28, 2018

By Rameshon

Someone had asked me, recently, on why I did not bring up issues on our middle and long distance running standard for Singapore? They asked me why I did not bring up the concern to improve the situation? I told that I have written to the relevant parties, in the past, for improvement in the running scene, but no response was given by the position holders at that time. My friend Frederick, told me “Write, write, just write.” I have done all that. So, the no response back is a problem. Moreover, the problem with the managing people was that they were not that well versed in Sports Science and Physiology.

Why I say this? From my experience, I have trained in the University of Loughborough and have met a number of top runners. Here, in Singapore, it is hard to see a sub – 15min for 5km runners. The runners doing 10km, you will see one or two Singaporeans doing sub – 33min. There in Loughborough University, I have met people who could do sub – 29min for 10km, and my coach Alan Guilder has done 28min 32sec, in the past. One day, while I was running, my coach and I ran with another runner. That took place when I was studying in the University of Loughborough. After our run, Alan told me that the runner we ran with was Jack Buckner. Later, I found out from my friend Thomas Tan, who was doing his Masters In Sports Science course, at that time, between year 1992 and 1994, that Jack Buckner has done 13min 10sec for 5000m at 1987 World Championships, and is a bronze medalist. He was also a European 5000m track champion as well.

When I was training with Loughborough University, there was a group who come to train with George Gandy, our former track coach and lecturer.  He is an inspiring figure in running, who has Masters in Sports Science, and he has developed a number of top middle and long distance runners in England. He was also the Middle and Long distance coach of England, at that time. Soon after, I met an artist who made friend with me. he was a 13min 28sec runner for 5000m. He joined a much faster group and was doing between 4min 20sec and 4min 30sec for 1600m x 6, with 3min rest, in between for recovery. My friend Tim Dickenson was able to do 4min 40sec for each repetition of the 1mile repeats. George Gandy’s advantage was his coaching experience and directly handles altitude training projects etc in the University.

Later on, I met my friend Tony Bignell, who was close to me and was also the vice captain for Loughborough University track team. Tony was a 3min 44sec runner and he had phenomenal speed in running and a selfless guy. During morning session training, sometimes my coach will be accompanied by Sonia McGeorge. Her husband’s name was Chris McGeorge. I did not know who she was. On one fine day, I found out that Sonia has done a 4min 05sec for 1500m and was first in the Grand Prix race in overseas. I myself saw the race live telecast in Loughborough University. During my training in Loughborough University, I met another runner who has done a 3min 38sec for 1500m.

Picture 2- Jack Buckner – 5000m time was 13min 10sec

Then, on an eventful day, while training with Sonia and Coach Alan, I met Chris as he joined us for a run. He told me that he admires marathon runners. When I asked him on his race and timing, he told that he has done 3min 36sec for 1500m. I realised that our tertiary runners in Singapore are very far away from these kind of timing, and I think, we may not realise this in the coming decade, for sure, as it has been three decades of not much improvement. Here, the problem is that we make it too easy for runners to go for overseas races, without putting a strict qualifying standard. Moreover, it has to do with fairness and transparency. Also if we do not do something about our athletics structure, we are going to stay ignorant like this in the coming future with not much success and improvement.

On one day, when I went back to the Loughborough University Athletics Club room, I saw the timing needed to qualify for World Student Games. Singapore athletes are allowed to go for World Student Games even when they are not doing near our national record for 1500m. It is because of this, that we did not progress. My friends also share the same sentiment. However, it was not possible for the runners in England as they must really qualify for it. Some of the timing are impossible to get. I had a lawyer friend who was a student at Loughborough and he was our captain in the university and he has represented Britain and has done do sub-8min for 3000m, by the name of Justin, and he could go.

Once, I saw the qualifying standards for 1500m, it was 3min 40sec for 1500m, for 3000m, it is a sub – 8min, for 5000m, it is sub-14min. When I saw the timing, I was impressed. I was thinking that if they were born here in Singapore, they will be easily selected. They really make the runners really go for very high standards or to simply don’t go. As for our low standard performance here we have remained stagnant like this for long in Singapore. The tertiary institution needs to really do really something in terms of improving running performance. They may need to get coaches like George Gandy in Singapore who are very experienced making people do sub 3min 45sec for 1500m etc.

Why is our standard still lagging behind? How far are we behind in performance? For these, I shall give own suggestions in the coming post for room for improvement in timing for races between 800m and 10000m track race. Also, on why it is not good to give rewards, especially of people go overseas, with slow timing, when our runners are not ready. Moreover, discussion on why it is important to only send athletes for World Student Games when they ready, is important  and will be discussed.

Other than that, in this essay, I am saying the truth that I have seen. It is in the hope to see Singapore athletics improve that I am writing this blog post. 

Edited By Tan Mariviv!