This spritely man at 93 defies all stereotype. He is Singapore oldest living Olympian whom represented Singapore in Hockey in 1956 – the only time Singapore participated in Field Hockey at the Olympics. I came across his story that he was doing competitive Race Walking when he was 91 years of age and was inspired to meet the man whom I had much admiration of.
MANDEEP: Hi Ajit, normally when sometimes when you say a person is old it has negative connotations however, especially for you it almost feels like a badge of honour because the dynamism at your age is truly inspiring and I am in awe of what you have achieved. Tell us about your sporting journey starting with your experience representing Singapore at the 1956 Olympics.
I was born in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. While in Selangor, I was playing hockey and cricket from an early age. In 1949, I was chosen play for Selangor in hockey. In 1951, I then came to Singapore as to enrol in a teacher training college and been in Singapore ever since. The 1956 Olympics was the highlight of my sporting experience and it was an unforgettable experience. I can clearly remember the opening ceremony and being lined up outside Melbourne Cricket ground and hearing the thunderous applause when we entered the stadium. The best of the best athletes in the world were there. We did quite well to beat Afghanistan and India. We came up against eventual gold medallist India in our group game and lost 6-0. India at that time was in a class of its own. I played defence and despite the score line we gave them a good fight. After Olympics, I still played hockey but got more into Cricket which I too represented Singapore in. Later on, I started playing golf and that became my passion. I play golf 3 times a week till today.
Did you visit the original Weston Corp at Bras Basah when you were young?
I remember your grandfather and his brother working at the store back in the day. Bras Basah was famous for sports. Among the row of shop houses was quite few sports stores like Weston and Olympic Sports. I used to go there to get my shoes, hockey sticks and crickets bats. Later on I also used to be the sports master at Queenstown Technical School and I used to patronise Weston, purchasing sporting equipment for the school.
The shoe you are wearing was originally made for the sport of Race Walking – tell us how you started in the sport and when did you stop competing.
I think it was 2016 and Singapore was hosting the Asian Masters for Athletics. My friend pushed me to take part and at my first go I won the Gold Medal. I went on to practice quite a bit to master the art the swing and the movement of the feet. I took it very seriously and competed vehemently and travelled all over competing in places like Kuala Lumpur, Sarawak and Brunei. Two years ago, I was supposed to go to Malaga in Spain to compete but bowed to family pressure to stop as I had a few health concerns and they did not want me to strain myself.
Whats keeping you busy now and how do you still keep active?
I play Golf 3 times a week with groups of friends at the Singapore Island Country Club. I even used to play for the club. I am still very competitive and love the game. I guess you can say sports in me, in my blood and I just can’t stop. I would go every morning to the golf course if I could.
What words of advice would you give young Singaporeans hoping to achieve their sporting dreams and also to those advancing in age who want to pick up a new sport. Do you think it's too late for someone like myself to start get into golf and play you if I get good enough?
Don’t give up, go for it. Just keep moving. Make your own standards and keep improving. For example, golf is very tactical and you have to judge the distance, just being on the green is not enough you have to be close to the hole as possible.Of course, anyone can take up a new sport. I started golf late too. So play and don’t feel shy or disheartened if you are not so good. Take the challenge, learn and continuously improve. I would be happy to play with you anytime.
© 2021 Limited Edt