I would like to take this opportunity to thank Tony Bignell, former vice - captain of Loughborough University Athletics Team and Arul, unofficial team Manager for me, and was my one year my senior, for supporting me to achieve the 2hr 29min in London Marathon. Also, I would like to thank my lecturer George Gandy, our then Loughborough University coach, for the guidance in progressing me in running.
In Year 1990, Feb, I ran in Hong Kong Marathon race 2hr 31min and I came in 5th overall in the race, with first position going to a Korean runner and second going to a China runner. Third position went to a Hong Kong runner and fourth position was taken by an Indian runner who had a personal best time of 14m 46sec for 5000m. I won $3000, at that time, and broke the National Record for the marathon. Later, in California Marathon, I did 2hr 30min in year 1991.
In fact, with this time, I was not even selected by the then Singapore Amateur Athletics Association to go for World Half Marathon races or even run in South East Asian Marathon races. I had to look for my races to improve and I did not want to disturb the association. At that time, I realised that it is not a wise idea to ask the association to put me for races. I told myself not to beg for any overseas races, and that was my stand all the way, in the past.
Also, in year 1991 and 1992, I did not break the sub-2hr 30min barrier. I was eager to do this. At the encouragement of John Sproule, I left for England. In year 1993, I ran in the Flora London Marathon, with the help of Arul, currently a teacher in Saint Joseph's Institution, who had decided to come along with me to support me in the race.
Arul was taking my videos while running. I stayed at Tony Bignell's house as he encouraged me to stay there. Tony, and his Dad brought me to the start point of London Marathon.
Before the London Marathon race, itself, quickly, I changed the way to train, after 5 weeks of exam period, studying and taking exams. I did not run much, but I was doing some minimum training. I exactly had 5 weeks to train, after exam. My conditioning for running, even for earlier training was more to run in 10km races, at that time. (I decided not to come for the SEA Games 1993 as the exam period clashed with SEA Games marathon 1993. The marathon race was held in Singapore).
In the London Marathon race, I ran a race where the wind was too strong and did a half-way time of 1hr 12min 30sec. As I was really inexperienced, I told myself to go for a personal best and nothing less and not to take too much risk when running. I wanted at least a season best time. As soon as I reached the half-way mark, I felt that I could do a similar time for the other half.
However, after half - way mark of the race, my pace was still constant until the 32km mark. My pace slowed down a lot towards the last 10km of the race. I was waiting for this to happen. As I had controlled my pace properly for the first part, I managed to run few seconds within the record.
My joy came when I saw myself the time which showed that I was about to hit a sub-2hr 30min pace. When I crossed the finish in 2hr 29min, I felt elated after the race. I told myself that it was luckily that I did not push to do 1hr 10min at the half -way mark, as I would have been killed by the race itself and, in the end, not do well.
I went back to see Tony to inform him of my new time and he was very happy. I am still indebted to Tony for helping me in this.
A few months before the race, at the encouragement of my friends, I had written in to the then Singapore Amateur Athletics Association to assist me and there was no reply. However, I found that they actually received the letter. I used my own money to run in this race to do well. When I did well, I did not get any reimbursement or any kind of congratulations, except from my friends. However, I was telling myself not to bother and I did not request any assistance from them, as they did not help me in the first place.
It was a run that I wanted to do a personal best time and I realised that I was able to achieve it without the association's help, except to ratify the record. It was George Gandy who helped me in ratifying the time to the then Singapore Amateur Athletics Association. Without friends, my parents, and many who helped me, this would not have been passible.