S.Sabapathy: Running was my true passion. The joy of training and learning new methods to push your body to new heights was always a priority.
And from a teenager I loved running and winning titles for myself and bringing glory to my country.
But sometimes your country and athletics officials don’t appreciate your commitment, the efforts, and sacrifices you make for the nation.
One disappointing incident took place after the September 1973 SEAP Games in Singapore.
Just before the start of this SEAP Games, the late Tan Sri Ghazali Shafee, president of the Malaysian Amateur Athletic Union (MAAU) back then, promised us that all gold medal winners will compete in November’s inaugural Asian Track & Field championships in Manila.
This was a great incentive to most of us to excel. I won a gold in the 4 x 400m relay, a silver in the 200m, and a bronze in the 4 x 100m relay.
Being a gold medal winner in the relay, I was called up with about 20 others for a one month centralised training stint in Kuala Lumpur.
However, just two days before our departure to Manila, our dream to participate in the Asian meet was shattered when we were told to break camp and return home.
Anthony Rogers, the then MAAU secretary told us that he was notified by a higher authority that this athletics team to Manila resembled more like a “team from Madras.”
Apart from me, I still remember the others…M. Dattaya, Karu Selvaratnam, B.S. Payadesa, Asir Victor, M. Subramaniam, Yamunah Nair, Kumarasen and Ramasamy.
Some were angry, but all of us were totally dejected and offended by the “racial labelling.” We felt let down and rejected by our own country.