15 Dec An Unattached Runner Leading to Club/Company Runner
It is time that I would like to share with the readers of this blog a summary of my young teenage days, on how I took up running and the progression that I had to go through. I hope that all athletes are not short changed, in running, as that is my intention. I believe there are many out there like me who do not miss one’s training to finally excel in running. My compassion is for those who are left out and are finally disadvantaged, and they regret now. I have seen some in my running programmes those who missed the boat, but they are 40 plus of age.
At age 13, I remember that there were people joining Swift Club and other clubs as well. At that time, Sivalingam was coaching the team for training. I was not spotted by anyone for me to join any club. I was also not an avid runner and I preferred soccer to running. I would play basketball as well when I was young. (My uncle who was a Selongor Tamils reserve basket ball player at that time, would teach me some skills in basketball. In our neighbourhood, he taught us basketball and we also played against good players who have been practising basketball nearly everyday, in Bukit Merah. We won several matches with good players, where my elder brother was a sharp shooter as well, scoring every point the moment he shoots).
In my school, in fact, my cross country teacher in-charge took me into cross country training as my elder brother was a good runner. Nobody knew I was good, including as I did not have self – believe then. My brother came in seventh in National Schools Cross Country Championships for under 14 boys open category. The school that I was from, SJI, was focusing mainly on track and field championships rather than on cross country. Our training was from January till March, once a week. After that, we were told to come back next year to train, in January.
At that time, there were Clubs like MR 25, Flash, Safsa, Safra, etc. When I was about 15 years old, the track, for All Comers Meet, was always full of runners, at least 8 runners per race. I did well as an unattached runner. Life was happy as I was allowed to run even though my school did not take part and also I was not affiliated to any club. That groomed me to be a better runner over time.
In a number of races, I ran under unattached and I did not have to join any club to do it. However, I was yearning to join clubs when I was young. I realised that one should run well to join, as the standard at that time was very high for Swift Club. Swift Club will keep winning most of the championships. The standard was much higher as the Gurkha Contigent will always compete with Swift Club to make them ‘perspire more’ to enable Swift Club runners and themselves to do well, in terms of timing.
I ran in a couple of SAAA All Comers meet as an unattached runner as my school did not field me in and Swift clubs did not take notice of me as I was not that good runner at that time. The most I will do is a 21min for 5km when I was a secondary school runner. I considered myself a slow runner.
Swift Club, moreover, invited Malaysian runners like M.Ramachandran to run for us in Men Open Cross Country races, although we had strong runners, as Swift Club runners had to run against Gurkha runners, and it was not easy.
As a young budding runner, it was only when I was about 17 years of age that I was allowed to run in Swift Junior races and I was in the team.
The story shows that if the past SAAA did not allow me to join as unattached runner in All Comers Meet and SAAA Cross Country Championships, I would not have gone through the process that finally led me to break my own National Record in 1995 Chieng Mai SEA Games Marathon, to 2hr 24min 22sec, for marathon, that I was having in 1993, 2hr 28min, set in Berlin Marathon.
The firm believe in me is that there are many out who could have missed the race as an unattached as one could have been unaware of what is going on or left out by clubs. Recently, they told me their sad story of how they did not improve because of some rules. If one is not that good yet, the idea of running unattached to any club, as a runner, is paramount for success. After years of development, one could join if the kid or athlete is finally found to have the talent and join clubs. The past rule led to progression in my running. We just hope that the public is not left behind as the above, I believe, throws some light for the necessity for unattached to any club runners to exist and develop.
Edited by Tan Mariviv!