Friday February 15, 2013
Former distance ace sad to see his 20-year marks still standing
By RAJES PAUL
KUALA LUMPUR: Former long distance runner M. Ramachandran thought nothing of his Facebook posting recently.
He had written, or rather asked a question: “Who will break my 5,000m and 10,000m national records (which have stood) since 1993?”
But now that he comes to think of it, it kind of saddens him that no-one has come anywhere near to breaking his long-standing records.
“I used to be proud of the records ... but now it saddens me that no-one has even come close to breaking them. I really hope someone will at least try to better them,” said Ramachandran, who is currently coaching Malacca.
His national record in the 5,000m is 14:06.84, which he set in a competition in Germany in 1994. His 10,000m mark of 29:30.18 was achieved at the 1994 Commonwealth Games in Canada.
The pint-sized Ramachandran had ruled the long distance events since making his debut with two silver medals at the 1989 SEA Games. He won the double – 5,000m and 10,000m gold medals – in four consecutive Games (1993, 1995, 1997, 1999) and that’s a feat no other Malaysian has managed. His time of 14:08.97 in the 5,000m in 1993 is still a SEA Games record.
Ramachandran feels that the mushrooming of road races could be the reason behind the dearth of long distance runners.
“Many are more interested in road races as it’s an easy way to make quick money.
“Training for the track events is harder. A good road runner cannot be a good track runner. However, a good track runner can master the road races. During my time, I was able to do both,” said the 1993 Olympian of the Year.
Despite quitting competitive sport in 1989, his love for the sport has remained strong. In fact, he continues to impart good values to the youngsters he trains in Malacca.
One of his charges, J. Karthik, did well to win three gold medals – in the 5,000m, 10,000m and 3,000m steeplechase – at the 2010 Malaysian Games (Sukma) in Malacca. However, the youngster is more interested in focusing on the 3,000m steeplechase.
“Karthik is seeking to qualify for the 3,000m steeplechase event in the coming SEA Games in Myanmar ... I can’t force him to focus on the other events as the interest must come from within,” said Ramachandran, who is a bank officer with Maybank.
He also attributed his success to the support given by his coach and employer.
“I have been with Maybank since my early days and they’ve always been very supportive. I was able to compete in local and international meets with their blessings. Even as a coach now, I still get their support,” said Ramachandran, who currently works at the Maybank branch in Taman Malin in Malacca.
“I also cannot forget the role played by my coach R. Jeganathan. He was instrumental in my success. It’s important to have a coach who encourages and pushes you to the limit. I hope more coaches will do their best to empower their charges,” said Ramachandran, who has vowed to continue coaching – and find another long distance gem like him.