Monday, March 4, 2013

Former national athlete forms club to train youngsters

FORMER international M. Arulthevar, one of the most successful long-distance runners in the country, has embarked on an ambitious programme to groom youngsters for track and road races.

Arulthevar, currently attached to the Malaysian Navy, has formed a club — Arul Running Club.

He has about 20 junior trainees, who train under his watchful eyes six days a week.

“I feel it is my responsibility to help young boys to be involved in healthy activities. Being a runner, I am concentrating on athletics,’’ said Arulthevar.

Most of the trainees in the club are students from Semenyih, Arulthevar’s home town, and studying either at SMK Engku Husin or SMK Bandar Rinching.

“We have students from primary and secondary schools. Most of them are from the lower income group.

“They have been with me for almost a year. They have shown tremendous progress and have taken part in local age-group competitions.

“Four athletes had represented Hulu Langat in the Selangor Schools Sports Council (MSSS) cross country championships,’’ said Arulthevar.

His protege G. Elanggovan made Arulthevar proud when he won the gold medal in the boys’ Under-18 age group in the Milo-Malaysian Schools Sports Council (MSSM) cross country championships in Kuching, Sarawak recently.

In the championships, Elanggovan, a student of SMK Bandar Rinching, Semenyih, was not among the favourites. But the youngster rose to the occasion and clocked 33:11s to finish ahead of Penang’s B. Kathiravhen (33:16s) and Terengganu’s Muhammad Basyaruddin Adilah Zaki (33:24s).

The other prominent runners in Arul Running Club are M. Prabakharan, S. Balamani and T. Sugan.

Arulthevar said Elanggovan had the potential to be groomed into an accomplished long distance runner.

“He will also take part in track events like the 5,000m, 10,000m and the 3,000m steeplechase. In fact, all our trainees will be exposed to road races and track events. Our aim is to see some of them representing Malaysia in international competitions.

“I don’t want them to be deprived of the chance to bring glory to the country,’’ said Arulthevar.

The 33-year-old is still bitter about his exclusion from the Malaysian athletics team for the 2001 SEA Games in Malaysia.

Despite being the gold medallist in the 3,000m steeplechase in the 1999 chapter, the Malaysian Amateur Athletics Union (MAAU) felt he was not up to the mark.

“But the SEA Games was held in Kuala Lumpur. The athletes I had beaten were winners in the 5,000m in the SEA Games. It is still painful as I could have won a medal for Malaysia. It would also have been a proud moment for me.

“Unfortunately I was deprived of that chance and I don’t want my trainees to face the same situation.

“I always advice them to train hard and be the best in their respective events,” said Arulthevar, who has been involved in athletics for the past 18 years.

As an athlete, Arulthevar won medals in the MSSM and Malaysia Games. His first appearance in the MSSM was in 1995 and he won a bronze medal in the 3,000m steeplechase. In the following year, Arulthevar won the gold medal in the event.

In the Malaysia Games held in Pahang in 1996, he won a silver (5,000m) and bronze (3,000m steeplchase).

In the 1998 Malaysia Games in Selangor, Arulthevar won a gold (3,000m steeplechase) and bronze (5,000m).

He was also actively involv­ed in road races and had been on podium in 10km and 21km events.

Last year, he won a gold (10,000m), silver (5,000m) and bronze (3,000m steeplechase) in the Armed Forces athletics championships.

Arulthevar said he would continue to take part in road races and track events.

“But my ambition is to train the young athletes. I will be happy when some of my trainees represent Malaysia.”

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