A Tribute to The Fastest Man in 100m for 33 years

Mr. C. Kunalan
M Sc PE & Sp Sc,
Dip PE & Sp Sc (Loughborough),
Dip T&F Coaching (West Germany),
Cert PE, H and Rec (W A),
Advanced Cert Ed (IE, Singapore),
Cert Ed (TTC,Singapore) Lecturer

Mr. C. Kunalan taught six years in a primary school and 13 years in a secondary school before joining the Institute of Education in 1980. Mr. Kunalan participated in Athletics at the 1964 and 1968 Olympic Games. His current research interest is in the areas of coaching and exercise science.

Areas of specialisation: Track and Field, Exercise Physiology, Fitness and Conditioning and Health Education

Name: Cunagasabai Kunalan

Born: 23 Oct 1942
Events: 100m, 200m

Career Highlights:
- 1970 21.5s Asian Games (200m 3rd)
- 1970 10.5s Asian Games (200m 3rd)
- 1968 10.3s Olympics Mexico (100m Semi-Final)
- 1966 10.5s Asian Games (100m 2nd)
- 5th SEAP Games (3 golds)
- Broke Asian Games 200m record (21.3sec)
- Singapore Sportsman of year 1968 & 1969

Personal Best
- 100m (10.3s)
- 200m (21.0s)
- 400m (47.9s)

Former record holder in 100m. Mr. C. Kunalan taught six years in a primary school and 13 years in a Dunearn Secondary Technical School before joining the Institute of Education in 1980.

Mr. Kunalan participated in Athletics at the 1964 and 1968 Olympic Games. His current research interest is in the areas of coaching and exercise science

"After each and every race, I used to have a feeling. And that feeling I had reflected exactly my performance for that race. I might feel disappointed because the race was not run as well as how i though it should, or I felt good because I was able to run the race well"

OCT 3, 2004 SUN

Where are they now?

By Marc Lim

C. Kunalan


A 14-time SEAP Games medallist, Kunalan held the Republic's 100m record for 23 years.

Why he was great

Arguably Singapore's greatest sprinter, having won five Asian Games and 14 South-east Asian Peninsular Games medals in a career than spanned over a decade in the 1960s.

The two-time Olympian was a fraction of a second away from winning the 1966 Asian Games gold - the title going to Malaysia's M. Jegathesan after a photo-finish.

The 10.38 seconds he clocked in the 1968 Olympics stood as the national record for 33 years, until U.K. Shyam bettered it by 0.01sec in 2001.

Kuna, whose first love was soccer until he was persuaded to switch sports when studying at the old Teachers' Training College, also led the 4x400m team to multiple golds at the Seap Games. His best year was in 1969, when he won Seap Games golds in the 100m, 200m and 4x400m relay.

Where he is now

A 62-year-old assistant professor at the National Institute of Education, he lectures on functional anatomy and exercise physiology, and conducts practical classes in fitness and conditioning, plus track and field.

Although he does not follow the sport intimately, he still keeps in touch through the Internet, newspapers and coaches.

Daughters Soma, 37, Mona, 30, and Gina, 28, followed him and wife Choong Yan into the teaching profession. Only Mona took to the track, but she has since given up competitive running.

These days, he spends his leisure time playing with grandchildren Jasmine, eight, and Amber, six.

On staying active in sport, he said: 'I'll stay on as long as people need me. When I finally retire, just sitting and shaking legs will take some getting used to.'

NIE News

Corporate Affairs C Kunalan, Hear Kunalan, Speak Kunalan
(Contributed by Asst Prof Nicholas Aplin,
Physical Education and Sports Science)

The induction of C Kunalan into the Hall of Fame at a glittering and glamorous event on the 11 January 2002 was probably overdue. But ask the man himself about his status, a man who is the epitome of humility, and one might dare believe that others are more deserving. Not so.

The Minister for Community Development and Sports, Mr Abdullah Tarmugi presented seven awards at the Fullerton Hotel during a night of emotion and reflection. The regal procession down the stairs to the decorated ballroom was a prelude to a highly personalised display of sentiment and passion - characteristics that do not come easily in this particular type of public and social life in Singapore.

The assembled dignitaries, friends, family members and most significantly the other heroes and heroines of past and present were enraptured by the glittering array of talent that modestly acknowledged the contributions of others as significant in their achievement of fame.

C Kunalan (right) with the Guest-of-Honour, Mr Abdullah Tarmugi at the Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony

The programme described the affable Kunalan as a sprint icon, one who was an ideal role model for athletes. The soft-spoken Kunalan then thanked his mentors and his peers but most importantly he singled out his wife. Before she married him, Chong Yoong Yin herself, had been a national sprinter. The ultimate role model spoke of the responsibility that goes with commitment to sport. He had learned from his own coaches Tan Eng Yoon and Yap Boon Chuan, that you should always be there for the athlete - come rain or shine.

Kunalan made rapid progress in track when he first started in 1963. Tan Eng Yoon, then National Coach, commented at the time that the most improvement shown by any athlete had been displayed by C Kunalan, who after only five months of training had returned times of 10.9 seconds, 22.3 seconds, and 50.9 seconds for the 100m, 200m, and 400m respectively. He was clearly a good prospect for the future. But it was in the relay that he first made his name. That year at the Malaysia Sports Festival at Kuala Lumpur, Kunalan, together with Cedric Monteiro, Wong Fey Wan, and Low Sin Chock, completed the sprint relay in a new Singapore National Record, and a Malayan All-Comers Record time of 42.0 seconds.

Competitive athletics provided ups and downs. An Olympian the following year in Tokyo, again in the relay, but this time with the legendary Mani Jegathesan, he played his part in creating new records. The Asian Games of 1966, two years later, were bitter-sweet for Kunalan - a silver medallist failing minutely to oust his rival and friend Jega in Bangkok. At the Mexico Games in 1968, a new national record that remained untouched until 2001. Injury and imposed retirement at the end of 1970 brought Kunalan into coaching. This was the place, which contributed just as much to his growing reputation as a role model as did the times he had produced on the track.

For many people, this might have proved sufficient, but for Kunalan the drive to compete remained and so he returned to the competitive scene and extended his active career until 1979. Even then, injury not age was to draw the line on his career.

Today, most admirers and colleagues recognise that the altruism of Kunalan has been his hallmark. As a teacher, then as a lecturer at College of Physical Education, and right through to his current position in Physical Education & Sports Science (PESS), NIE, Kunalan has demonstrated the ultimate characteristics of caring, benevolence and self-transcendence. He may not be the first representative of PESS to be inducted into the Hall of Fame - that distinction belongs to Naomi Tan - but he will doubtless be the most highly acclaimed.

Mr C Kunalan believes that excellence in sports performance depends firstly on natural talent. This will involve the athlete's body structure, physical and mental capacities and his/her ability to learn and master sporting skills. But natural abilities/endowments aren't enough to produce successful athletes. These athletes have to be nurtured and here's where the environment plays an important role. Good training facilities, conducive and supportive home environments are but a few of the key factors. It is with this special combination that a successful athlete can emerge and parents, schools, coaches, sports associations, sports administrators, scientists, employers, appreciators and supporters play a part in this production

Pala, a Good Friend of C. Kunalan, used to teach in DSTS:

Link to Pala Obituary

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More news of Prof C Kunalan at:

Non-English Web:

The chap who rewrote the 100m record after 33 years: