Picture 1 - LTC (Retired) Kesavan Soon (Behind, in the middle)
In the early 1990s, N. Ganesan went through 2 coaches before coming to me for training and his coaches were my friends as well. The former had a time of 16min 46sec for 5km. Knowing this, Ganesan came to me to improve his time.
In four months time, using time off from SAFSA, as a hockey player, Ganesan, also trained very hard in running. He had to double up. He kept training consistently. He was made to do intensive workouts by me in the late evenings and he did 15min 41sec for Singapore Open 1992, while I did 15min 31sec.
I tried my best to get Ganesan time off to train by writing to his army unit etc but it was to no avail. We can see that this is a problem even now with athletes in Singapore. The real talented athletes are not able to come out of army, and it needs ironing out. This is also why Singapore's 5km standard, as a whole, is very low compared to many parts of the world, even until now.
The races are also not structured well in Singapore - road races and cross country as well. Very few races are organised well such that the public can benefit from the race. A number of times talented athletes are omitted from very important races by lack of encouragement in registration process for races.
We need people like LTC (Retired) Kesavan Soon, who does not know N. Ganesan much but was supportive such that the latter later on did 14min 57sec for 5km, and was able to break the 15min barrier. The first one to do it.
Hence, we need people, who not just giving lips service that they will help when they come to power. Instead, when come to power, they actually forget their role to make things transparent and ensure a fair competition for all. Transparency has been a problem in Singapore Athletics and it is time that something needs to be done.
I was told by some in Singapore on why the standard will not come up. A parent told me that in swimming his daughters had fair competition and that things are transparent and there are fair rules. However, he found that in athletics things are not transparent enough. Internal scrutiny is very important as there may be favouritism going on.
As a Vice President of Singapore Athletics, LTC (Retired) Kesavan Soon will always be remembered and cherished and we hope that other leaders also follow suit. We hope that they do not just cling to power and only are looking forward for people to praise them, but to do one's work properly and help the appropriate, fit and the correct athlete to go for overseas competition by organising a fair competition.