The Malay Mail | Malaysia | 29 Aug 2015 | Asia Samachar |
Police officer Nashatar Singh represented Malaysia in two Olympics. He was not into sports until he was in Form Four in Anderson School, digs Tony Mariadass in an article in The Malay Mail (22 Aug 2015).
DATUK Nashatar Singh Sidhu was a late discovery in sports. And his involvement in rugby, athletics and golf were all by chance. Still, there was no looking back for Nashatar, who turned 76 on Aug 19.
Here, he proved that with little knowledge of the sport, even a late starter can make the grade if one had the passion, discipline and will to succeed.
The former police officer, excelled in athletics at the highest level — competing in two Olympics (Tokyo 1964 and Mexico City 1968), while in rugby he represented the nation.
He then turned to golf in his twilight years, playing socially to a 12-handicap. Nash, as he was popularly known, was born in Punjab, India. His father Modan brought him to Malaya and settled down in Ipoh.
“My involvement in sports was all by chance. I was not into sports until I was in Form Four in Anderson School,” said Nash who served the Police Force, following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather.
“It was the headmaster of Anderson School, a Welshman, Dr G.E.D. Lewis, who came by my class as a relief English teacher one day. At the end of the class, he asked every student in the class what sports were we involved in.
“When my turn came, I told him I was not involved in any sports activities. Looking at me standing six-feet-three, he told me to report to the rugby team in the evening.
“I told him I had to cycle 14 kilometres from school to home and returning in the evening would be difficult. He simply told me that if I could cycle to school daily, I could surely cycle back again for sports.
“I was back in school that evening for my first rugby training session without a clue of what rugby was. Coaching the team, Lewis told me to tackle a player or two. I floored four different playersin one go along the way,” recalled Nash with a boisterous laughter.
“I was in the school team and when I said I did not know the rules, I was told to pass the ball behind,” said Nash a natural lock-forward.
The rest is history as Nash went on to wear Perak state colours when the team was then made up of Europeans and then the Perak All Blues which only comprised of locals and went to win the
All Blues title beating Singapore in the final at the Merdeka Stadium in 1957. He soon earned the title ‘King of line out’.
Nash then went to play for Police and the national team which he captained from 1957 to 1961 before injury forced him to retire from competition. Nash’s involvement in field athletics was equally interesting when he was asked to represent his school house (Sultan) in inter-class athletics meet to gain points.
“I hurdled, did the high jump, triple jump and also took part in shot putt and javelin too. I was an instant hit in javelin with no coaching or technique. There were times I suffered from tennis elbow because of wrong technique.”
It was, however, in 1962 at the Malaysian Open athletics championship in Ipoh that he got some tips for his javelin throw from participating athletes from Australia and Pakistan, recalled Nash.
“The Pakistan thrower Mohd Newaz, matched the Europeans and I sought his advice. He agreed to help provided I took him for dinner,” said Nash.
At his debut Asian Games in Bangkok 1966, he won gold in a Games record 72.92m against Newaz who finished fourth.
“It was for me the most memorable moment having come to the Games as a nobody and win,” said Nash who went to claim the bronze medal at the 1970 Games.
Nash won six gold medals at the SEA Games (1963 to 1975), finishing fourth at the 1966 Commonwealth Games in Jamaica, besides dominating the national championship.
He also competed in the shot putt, hurling gold at the 1967 and 1969 SEA Games. He also won the silver medal at the first Asian Track and Field championship in 1973.
Nash also had the honour of being the national contingent’s flag-bearer for 10 straight years which included three SEA Games (1967, 1969, 1971) and Asian Games (1970) besides other events.“I remember Mani Jegathesan, Rama Subramaniam and myself going for training and competition in Russia and Germany as preparation for the 1968 Mexico City Olympics.
“We did not have team officials and we three made arrangements for internal travel, accommodation, training grounds, entering ourselves for competition and cooked our own food as food was expensive.
“These days athletes have everything provided to them from A to Z and yet they still cannot perform.”
Nash was lucky his rugby and athletics season did not clash. We managed to compete in both.But more importantly, my rugby training and competition served in conditioning me for athletics. Rugby also helped built my character to be an extrovert. The esprit de corps in the sport was the key factor in shaping me.”
He picked up golf at the Police Training Centre where he was the adjutant in 1972.
“A senior officer Jerry Toft was hitting the ball at the Pulapol ground and invited me to try it out. In my first swing, I broke his club,” laughed Nash.“I not only bought him a club, but decided to have a go at the game,” said Nash who was involved in the building of the PDRM Titiwangsa Golf Club.
“I won the first two competitions on a handicap of 22, I managed to drop to 12, before I left for training in Germany.Nash’s dedication to sports is unquestionable that he even neglected his family — his wife Parkash Kaur children — Harminder Singh, Amreet Kaur, Manjeet Kaur and Nakesh Singh.
“I spent much time on the playing field or office as athlete, sports official, coach or police officer,” said Nash with a tinge of sadness.
“I wish I had spent more time with my family,” said Nash who started work as a court interpreter for two and half years in Ipoh before joining the Force as a probationary inspector in 1962.
He retired with rank of Senior Assistant Commissioner and held the post of Deputy Director of Internal Security and Public Order.
His saddest moment was when his son Nakesh died in 1987 after a short illness.
He was first the Malaysian Amateur Athletics Union (MAAU) vice-president and then coaching chairman from 1978 to 1993.
Nash was also involved in the 1998 Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur as director of operations.days besides him going occasionally to the driving range for a social round of golf, he spends much of his time with his grandchildren.
But Nash who was inducted to the Olympic Council of Malaysia Hall of Fame in 2004 has left his mark as a rugby player, field athlete, police officer, sports administrator and coach –— a tight act to follow.
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