Another medal for track star and teacher Kunalan

He may be famous for his exploits on the running track, but former national sprinter Canagasabai Kunalan, 72, hopes he has left a mark in the classroom too.

An educator for almost 50 years before he retired in 2010, he has been given the Meritorious Service Medal, part of the National Day Awards, this year.

He said: "I'm honoured to receive this award and it's a nice recognition of the contributions I'd made, not just in sports but also as a teacher." He taught for 20 years at primary and secondary schools before lecturing at the National Institute of Education for three decades.

One of his proudest moments was seeing the creation of the Singapore Sports School in 2004, he noted.

Another was the opening of the old National Stadium in 1973, where he was later asked to light the South-east Asian Peninsular (Seap) Games cauldron when Singapore hosted the biennial event for the first time.

"It showed that the Government was serious about making sports part of our lives and trying to encourage Singaporeans to lead a more healthy lifestyle," said Mr Kunalan, who is also a vice-president (training and selection) of Singapore Athletics.

The two-time Sportsman of the Year (1968 and 1969) is one of the country's most successful athletes, with 15 Seap Games medals and five from the Asian Games. His national record of 10.38sec in the 100m, set at the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City, stood for 33 years.

The septuagenarian, a senior manager (strategic development and marketing group) at Sport Singapore, shows no sign of slowing down. He said with a chuckle: "I'm almost 73 and still working. Hopefully, this award will also inspire others to keep active."


This article was first published on Aug 10, 2015.
Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to for more stories.