Time Singapore Has Coaches Like George Gandy Posted on October 27, 2018

Time that Singapore have coaches like George Gandy in Singapore

By Rameshon

Picture 1 – Going Loughborough University was one of the best decision in life

Going Loughborough University was one of the best decision in life.

When I was about to go and study at Loughborough University of Technology, England, between 1992 to 1994, specialising on Physical Education and Sports Science, there were some lecturers who were encouraging me to go and study there. Out of the lecturers in the former College of Physical Education (CPE), only one lecturer suggested strongly that I should not go to Loughborough University to study and he told me to go to an American university like Oregon instead. I respected the lecturer’s advice, but eventually I felt that Mr John Sproule’s suggestion was better, and he was our Physiology lecturer and our soccer instructor in the then CPE. I went ahead to study at Loughborough University. My decision went unhampered although some friends were also discouraged me.

Picture 2 – Using Loughborough University training method, which my coach, Coach Alan Guilder uses, I did 2hr 34min 02sec for Singapore International marathon 1994, and later 2hr 24min 22sec for 1995 Chiangmai SEA Games Marathon event.

Looking back, at my running career, even before going to Loughborough, I did 15min 31sec for 5km race in Singapore Open 1992, and 2hr 30min for California Marathon 1990, which was famous for all the way gradual downhill course, from start to finish. (My sincere advise to runners is to go to this marathon and you will have a great chance of getting a very good personal best time as the terrain is excellent for getting a fast time, as it is all downhill). At that time, my 10km time was 32min 42sec done in year 1992.

Within 7 months of my arrival in England, I took part in three league One National Cross Country Championships, representing Loughborough University. There were other cross country leagues going on in other parts of England as well. In league Two race of National Cross Country Championships, the best runner was in fact able to do a 2hr 12min timing for the marathon race. The runners were amazing and impressive. There were crowd support as well, unlike what we see here. .I hope that in Singapore we can have these kind of leagues. Many clubs were taking part. The races there were transparent and fair. 

In fact, in the first race of the league One, I was 66th position and I underestimated the runners. My time was very good, but I did not like the position, although, in Singapore I was the fastest runner for 5km to the marathon race. Later on, I realised that in one of the 10km cross-country run, nearly all runners, about 90 in total, were able to do a sub-33min. It was hard to see a 34min and above runner there. I had to really work very hard from start to finish throughout the race.

In our university, by training under the wings of George Gandy, who was later ordained by the Queen of England and is now called Sir George Gandy, at Loughborough University, I was also training with my own personal coach, Alan Guilder, on days where the University does not have any training. Earlier, Alan was taken as a training partner by me at first. Over time, knowing that he has done a 13min 32min for 5km, I decided to take him as a coach, after listening to my friend called Tim Dickenson, who was our cross county captain at that time.

My university study was actually fully funded by my own savings and from my parents’ savings. Within 7 months, I did 31min 46sec for 10km. During the week before doing 31min 46sec personal best time, I had to sit for 5 tests and the test were all not that easy and I had to study extra hard and tone down the mileage a lot. In the third cross country league race, which was the final one, I found myself about 100m away from Gorden Reid, a Scottish runner, who had a time of 14m 47sec for 5km. He was also Scotland best junior runner for long distance running, at that time. Most of the junior topmost runner from Ireland, Wales and England were in Loughborough University. 

My two year study at Loughborough was quick and was also filled with test and assignments, projects and research work. (I took up research on heart rate as my supervisor found that there were no research been written much about heart rate in running, at that time). When it comes to running, one day, I was at the Loughborough Athletics Club to look at George Gandy’s training schedule for the university athletes. Talking to him, I found that he was a very knowledgeable person who do altitude training projects and it has benefitted athletes in England. The handwriting of George Gandy’s training programme was not neat but it was all done with excellent planning, which had technology behind it and it was supported by research.

Many runners excelled in running in Loughborough University because of George Gandy. Lord Sebastian Coe, the president of IAAF have praised George Gandy’s Loughborough Circuit in his book for assisting him to break 4 world records in 41 days (800m, 1000m, 1500m 1600m).

Sir George Gandy was also the Head Coach of England middle and long distance team, when I was studying there.

One day, when I was at the Loughborough Athletics Club room, I happened to see the running times of runners aiming to qualify in races between 1500m and 5km races. I realised that in order for one to go for World Student (University) Games they must qualify for the time for 1500m and they got to do 3min 46sec to qualify. For 5km the time was about sub-14min. Immediately, something made me to write back to Ms Rina Loh, a former admin manager for the then Singapore Amateur Athletics Association on the dismal state of Singapore Athletics. I did not get any reply.

I wrote that there were a lot of middle distance runners in Loughborough University. That was year 1992. I found that the slowest middle runner for 1500m was doing 3min 53sec. At that time, the fastest runners in Singapore were M. Maran and Saravanan and their times were 3min 53sec. I wrote to Ms Rina that Loughborough University athletes were giggling about the Singapore’s best time, at that time, and I told her that athletes there asked me why the times were very slow. They were my good friends and showed a lot of respect towards fellow runners and they were very curious about Singapore’s slow time. Some of the Loughborough Athletics middle and long distance runners became subjects in my research studies, for my degree course.

Over time, I realised that most of the coaches in England were well versed in Sports Science. In Singapore, many of the coaches only have basic sports science and they do not upgrade themselves to a degree. When I did IAAF level one course, I realised that many have not done the basic sports science course yet. After the theory test, a number of them told the lecturers that the test was difficult. The lecturers told that it is getting harder over time. I felt that the test was quite easy, as one can open the book to answer. Throughout, I did not lay a finger to open the book to answer. I feel that it is important to have not just basic sports science, but a degree in sports science at least, before doing the IAAF coaching course.

In Loughborough I also saw Paula Radcliffe, current world record holder doing her workouts. The training programme which were scientific.

Hence, I feel that it is important that coaches like George Gandy presence in Singapore, would, may be, be an asset to Singapore. Loughborough is known as the Mecca or running in England. Using George Gandy’s training principles and technology, I was able to assist, over time, in Singapore, 22 athletes to obtain sub-3hours time for the marathon, in my own life, so far. Looking at our 1500m to 10km race time that is going on in the university, I feel that the timings for Singapore’s long distance races have not improved much and it is time that we need a knowledgeable coach to assist runners in Singapore. It is time that Singapore look for coaches with excellent Sports Science back ground, and to develop the runners in Singapore. It cannot left to chances. George Gandy was also good in Physiology, as he has Masters in it, and he was my athletics lecturer as well for Sports Technology module. It was through him that we learnt the blue print on how top Olympians train for middle and long distance races. There are plenty of coaches with very good knowledge in coaching in England, USA, Europe, Kenya, etc that we can consider.

Edited By Tan Mariviv!