After the success of training Sukhdev to win the individual championship trophy in Gan Eng Seng Secondary School's Annual Track and Field Championships in 1983, I realised the potential of coaching is in me. The believe increased in me, as a matter of fact.
When I was at the then College of Physical Education (CPE), between 1985 to 1987, I was running practically every single day. Helen Gilbey and John Sproule were enthusiastic about running and they had been training while lecturing in the College. I learnt a lot from these two lecturers and I am appreciative to them for imparting me on the knowledge of Human Physiology.
Helen Gilbey, an American by descent, was once losing K. Jeyamani, a top Singapore female runner, at that time, in middle and long distance events, especially in the 10km races. Over time, while lecturing in CPE, Helen trained very hard and came in as the champion women open runner in numerous long distance races, in Singapore. I liked the way she taught her lessons. Her lessons were very structured and interesting, and it was very progressive.
It was from Helen and John Sproule that I learnt to teach in a very progressive and gradual way such that students are able to learn easily. My lessons that I teach, which I later on taught, were modelled after Helen Gilbey's and John Sproule's way of teaching.
John Sproule, our Physiologist lecturer, who was a Scottish by descent, was running 10km every day. Running with him was a challenge to me, when I joined him for a run, as he was going a 45min kind of pace for 10km most of the time. It was from him that I learnt to drink electrolyte drink properly in a marathon. He was the mastermind on teaching me on the concentration of electrolyte drink that I should drink during a marathon. Helen taught me on the importance of coming up with a structured training programme that works. She enabled me and informed me on why hydration is important. John Sproule, on the other hand, taught me the methodology on what should be the components of the electrolyte, the concoction of a drink.
Basically, it was from the two great people that I have mentioned above that I learn to the point that things were pushing me from teaching to teach/coach.
For Teaching Practice, I was attached to Gan Eng Seng, Raffles Institution and Dunearn Secondary School, for few weeks within the span of 2 years. In Gan Eng Seng Secondary, I did not coach anyone. However, in Raffles Institution, I decided to coach the team after knowing that the school did not have a team but it had the Athletics team only. I trained the group for three weeks. However, I did not recruit anyone at that time.
Later on, I was sent to Dunearn Secondary School. It was here that I met Mr Sim Song Hwa. He mentored me to train the long distance running team. Mr Sim saw that I was very keen in Long Distance coaching. He supported me a lot that enabled me to start recruiting students.
The first student from Dunearn Secondary School that I trained was a secondary one girl by the name of Xu Pei Hua. While teaching Physical Education during a lesson, I saw potentials in her. Pei Hua joined immediately after my effort to recruit her into the long distance running group. There were other female and male students who joined me as well over time. Of the group, Xu Pei Hua and Helen Toh were the two very keen female students who started to train regularly.