The Olympics, perhaps the greatest sporting event of all time, had dominated the prior week of our lives. We kept discussing or hearing about the events, athletes, outcomes, and medals almost everyday. But, how many of us were aware of one national woman athlete who represented Malaysia in the mid-to-late 90s?
Former National Racewalker Annastasia Karen Raj was the last prominent Malaysian Indian athlete to qualify for the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.
The Sentul-born athlete remains a dominant force amongst women sprinters who competed for Malaysia. Her career is filled with many trials, bitter sweet.
At the age of 17, she worked as a part-time waitress at Concorde Hotel, Kuala Lumpur, in 1992. Her coach and former national walker was the one who discovered that Annastasia had potential to be a good athlete.
She was merely 21-years-old when she became Malaysia’s first female walker to qualify for the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. Her sheer speed in the race was breathtaking having beaten the national record of 45:47.00 in the 10km race.
Her coach, V. Subramaniam knew it there and then – here was a champion in the making.
Due to continuous encouragement from her coach, she had also competed in the Asian Track & Field, World Championships. She broke the national record a whooping 13 times and was also honoured as the Olympian of the Year by Malaysia’s King.
“You can clinch a gold medal at the SEA Games, but can you break the record, can you beat your own personal best?” she said.
The 44-year old was among the last of a golden generation of great sportsmen and sportswomen. Anna was also elected as the Malaysian Olympians Association Vice President for the 2020-2022 term.
At present moment, Annastasia holds the position of Lear Corporation’s Asia Talent Acquisition and Diversity & Inclusion Director in China, as well as the Head of Human Resources for India. Her hope is to see the younger generation of Malaysian youths especially Malaysian Indians to get involved in sports and helm a name for themselves in their chosen arena of sports.
Till date, she serves as an inspiration and maintains her iron determination through leadership, business, and sports. And, fully knowing that her success are a part of a vast list of achievements spanning a decade.
Information Source: Twenty Two