|(left) Chamkaur (still reigning 1500m national recorder with a time of 3min 51sec, a SEA Games bronze medalist.|
Somebody told me that in the track and field events, during the 2015 South East Asian Games, that the middle and long distance runners did not fair well, except for the marathon race where Soh Rui Yong ran and got a gold medal for Singapore.
Dr Bala was the Team Manager while I was the official coach for middle and long distance race for the Singapore athletes. Day and night we were working to get things done. I remember Dr Bala waking up at 5am and we meet for breakfast at 5 30am before we do our services for Singapore Athletics. Dr Bala was very hardworking during SEA Games. During the Swift Athletes Association Appreciation Dinner, we were honoured for our service.
Both Dr Bala and I were observing that many of the middle and long distance runners, in fact, did their personal best times. I think that it was necessary to give encouragement to these middle and long distance runners, even though the timings were far off from the top 3 timing of 2013 and 2015 SEA Games timing from 800m to the 10000m for both men and women.
Perhaps, the Singapore Athletics must have realised that it is good to give exposure to these runners as they were chosen for the SEA Games, and also of the fact that the race was held here and not overseas. Only the marathon race, was hotly contested as the timings were competitive.
While taking care of the middle and long distance runners, Dr Bala and I realised that we have a personal best time for 10km which was 31m 36sec and 31min 46sec, respectively, done long time ago. Dr Bala did it in the USA and I did it in England. Even Morales Menon from Singapore Athletics, while discussing with us was not aware of Dr Bala's personal best time. I believe that it is not his fault as Dr Bala did this time several years ago and at that time Morales was not known to athletics. Helen Gilbey, our former lecturer, during our teacher trainee days period, was the one who showed me the news that Dr Bala did 31min 36sec. Many don't know about this and he told me that he prefers not to tell anyone.
In the 10km running scene, only Soh Rui Yong, the current record holder of 10km and P.C. Suppiah, the former record holder, have a 10km time that is faster than us. The best time for 10km in Singapore is a 32min plus and this need to be improved. My job is to offer solutions for upcoming runners on not to wait but to look beyond Singapore shores and aim to improve more.
Chamkaur Singh, the national record holder of Singapore for 1500m for men open was once training in Singapore and he did a near 4min flat for the event.
Over time, he asked some advise from friends and myself. Vehemently, I told him to go overseas and he got his dream time of 3min 51sec for 1500m. Else, his time would have stagnated at 4min flat all the way. .He went over to the west, in Australia, for further studies and for intensive training and competitive stint for few years, and he finally brought a bronze medal for Singapore in 2004 SEA Games in Vietnam.
A number of athletes have actually gone overseas have done very well in middle and long distance running. Our top runners need to at least stay for two years there, although for holidays it is wise to visit Singapore to see their respective family members.
And I know of two runners who did not go overseas and heed our advice to train and studies, who ended up not breaking the national record. They intended to stay in Singapore when the time was ripe to go overseas for training and racing.
My intention in writing this is to suggest on the need to take steps as an aspiring runner that maybe, in the early part of the athlete's career, it is alright to stay in Singapore and improve. When you need more improvement in running and to have more competition it is wise to go overseas as the weather permits one to do a good time.
There are other factors also which will help in running performance and I shall discuss this in the future.