Step Up – Young Sports Leaders’ Seminar
3 March 2007 at SMU
Mr C Kunalan (left) gives his keynote address while U K Shyam looks on. (Photo © Les Tan/Red Sports)
About a month ago, I found myself at the SMU to take pictures of a seminar organised by the Singapore Sports Council for youth involved in sports. The keynote speakers were C. Kunalan and U K Shyam, Singapore’s fastest 100m sprinters, past and present. Mr Kunalan held the national record of 10.38s for 33 years until Shyam set a new record of 10.37s in 2001 at the World University Games in Beijing.
What struck me most was the story he told of how he left secondary school with only three ‘O’ levels. Today, Mr Kunalan is an Assistant Professor at the National Institute of Education. So it goes to show that it doesn’t matter how you start sometimes, but how you continue and finally, how you finish.
Mr Kunalan set the national record at the 1968 Mexico Olympics and at the 5th South East Asian Peninsula (SEAP) Games the year after, he broke the Asian Games 200m record with a time of 21.3s. What’s more, in 1981, he clocked 48.8s for the 400m at the age of 39.
He’s a sporting hero in my book. And more importantly, he’s OUR sporting hero.
More photos next page