Canagasabai Kunalan overcame his small build and a late start to become a Singapore sprint legend. Off the track, he continues to inspire sporting values of tenacity, diligence and a strong dose of humility- in teaching, love and life.
His talent for sprinting was only discovered when he was a trainee at the then-Teachers’ Training College (TTC). There, as Kunalan was playing soccer, the late Tan Eng Yoon – a TTC lecturer and honorary national coach – noticed his rapid-fire gait. Initially resistant to the idea, Kunalan eventually joined Eng Yoon’s national squad in 1963.
Kunalan’s competitive career truly took off at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, and by 1966 he held five national records. These were not just the result of his natural talent, as he worked hard for his achievements.
“Good genes can only let you lead the first 20 metres,” he said. “It is with tough training that you can continue to lead the remaining 80 metres and win the race.”
The above is an excerpt from “Game For Life”, a book that chronicles the journeys of 25 Singaporeans whose lives have been made extraordinary through sport. To read more about Kunalan among other inspiring stories of hope and achievement, get your copy of “Game for Life” for just SGD$ 20 from SSC’s Sports Library located at 230 Stadium Boulevard, Singapore 397799.
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