“What we have to accept is that excellence in any sport comes through the pyramid principle, which means we must have a very broad base (grasroots talent pool),”
Tan Sri Dr. Mani Jegathesan, a monumental figure in Malaysian athletics, states that if Malaysia wants to see an increase in athletic talents amongst the youth, then there should be more emphasis on sports in schools. If children are not given the opportunity to display their talent or their interest in sports when they are in school, then the opportunity to nurture their athletic skills might be missed. He states that for the past couple of years, schools have geared children towards an academic direction rather than giving them a complete education that emphasises both physical and mental education.
“This (academics) is good. However, I think sports and physical activities also play a very important part of life and is not only an energizer of the public but is also a unifying factor.
The former sports superstar believes that although academic education is vital for the growth of a child, it is also equally important to involve them in physical activities, not just for their health and potential athletic talent but also because having children play sports together can foster a greater sense of unity and fraternity amongst them. Dr. Jegathesan also believes that athletes in Malaysia, if they are opportune to do so, should pursue a base abroad. He cited both Azeem Fahmi and Shereen Samson Vallabouy as flourishing in their sports careers ever since moving to the US. Receiving training abroad will heighten an athlete’s motivation and drive to succeed. The knowledge gained from being in a foreign environment will develop an athlete even further, states Dr. Jegathesan.
An icon of the 1960s, dubbed the golden era for Malaysian athletes on the international stage, Tan Sri Dr. Mani Jegathesan is an unforgettable powerhouse. He was once known as the fastest man in Asia and the flying doctor, even competing and beating Milkha Singh (the flying Sikh) in the 1962 Jakarta Asian Games. Dr. Jegathesan isn’t just an athlete but also a practising medical professional. He had won three gold medals in the 100 m, 200 m, and 4 100 m men’s relay events at the Bangkok Asian Games. He was the first Malaysian national in the history of the Commonwealth Games to qualify for the final of the 220-yard race. On the medical and research end of things, Dr. Mani Jegathesan had been the Chairman of the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) Medical Commission and honorary medical advisor for the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games. He also served the government medical department for 32 years.
Source: New Straits Times