Grassroots events are where champions come from, says Olympian Dr Jegathesan

Olympian Tan Sri Dr M. Jegathesan says events like ‘Jom Jalan with NPC 2024’, held on June 2, will help the nation unearth talents in race walking, adding the formula to finding champions must start at the grassroots.

“Helps, definitely helps,” was Dr Jegathesan’s immediate reply when asked if ‘Jom Jalan with NPC 2024’ could play a part in developing race walking in Malaysia.

“It attracts attention, so the more you have (events) like Jom Jalan (with NPC 2024), the numbers will keep increasing. Friends will bring friends. Families will bring children. More people will be involved.”

Organised by the National Press Club Malaysia (NPC) and supported by the Federal Territory Kuala Lumpur Athletics Association, the inaugural Jom Jalan with NPC 2024 drew 300 participants from all walks of life.

The event, which took place at Padang Merbok in the heart of Kuala Lumpur was divided into two categories – a 10km competitive walk with four sub-categories (adult men and women; junior boys and girls) – and a 5km fun walk.

At 83, Olympian and former Royal Malaysian Air Force deputy chief Datuk Shahrudin Mohamed Ali was the most senior participant of the event. Former national walker Shahrulhaizy Abdul Rahman and Malaysia Olympian Association president Noraseela Khalid joined him in the 5km fun walk.

Among those who supported ‘Jom Jalan with NPC 2024’ were Mercure Kuala Lumpur Shaw Parade, Nestle-Milo, Iskandar Investment Berhad, Nadi Tenang and F&N.

“The principles of increasing participants and achieving results have not changed. You need large grassroots (events) as that is where champions are made,” said Dr Jegathesan.

“Enthusiasm and support must initially go to creating activities that result in large participants. In other words, if you’re serious about (race) walking, you must go to where the beginning is – in the schools.”

He added that if more youths took up race walking or any sports as a hobby or to sweat it out, their talents would be spotted.

“How will a child know if they have the talent to run if they have never been asked to run? Instead, the child may pick up something else that he or she is not talented in. Each of us has different qualities and skills. It’s important to identify what one is talented in, that’s called talent development.

FTKLAA president Datuk Seri Dr V. Pulainthiran, who was at the event, echoed similar sentiments.

“You should give your child the opportunity to pursue their interests. Then we can see if they have what it takes to go further,” said Pulainthiran.

“The ‘Jom Jalan with NPC 2024’ provided a great platform for race walkers, especially those in schools, to test their capabilities. I’ve spoken to my team. We are extremely eager to make this event a part of our development programme.”

Pulainthiran added that if ‘Jom Jalan with NPC’ was held next year, he was confident of getting 1,000 walkers involved.

10km men’s open walk
1. Muhammad Fakhrulrazi Jailani (00:50:44.140s)
2. Jack Kennedy (00:50:44.167s)
3. C. Teban Raj (00:54:21.900s)
4. Mohd Nor Azuan Md Nor (00:57:49.453s)
5. Mohammad Fahmi Mohamad (1:00:42.490s)

10km women’s open walk
1. Kok Hui Ying (00:58:05.777s)
2. P. Kirttysha (1:01:50.273s)
3. Norliana Mohd Rusni (1:06:51.197s)
4. M. Kaliamah (1:12:07.097s)
5. Maggie Goh Kim Hong (1:12:26.350s)

10km junior boys’ walk (aged 13-17)
1. JP Kaveyan (00:57:59.117s)
2. S. Guruprashath (1:00:18.107s)
3. Muhammad Aqhil Miqhail Shahrizan (1:00:18.123s)
4. Muhammad Danial Riduan (1:01:23.250s)
5. Muhammad Irfhan Abbasshy (1:03:06.057s)

10km junior girls’ walk (aged 13-17)
1. Yee Zhi Xin (1:07:25.310s)
2. Putri Shazwani Zulkifli (1:07:29.477s)
3. Nur Damia Balqisya Mohammad (1:07:58.443s)
4. Alyxandrea Chee Jia Xi (1:08:51.850s)
5. Khor Shu Yan (1:09:00.843s)

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