The inaugural Merdeka Kuala Kubu Baru (KKB) 21km Road Relay held last Saturday is set to be a permanent event in the athletics calendar.
The race, the brainchild of B. Rajakumar, a household name middle distance runner, who was the organising chairman and ambassador to this Road Relay Race, said the overwhelming response especially from school boys and girls, is proof that road relays can be revived.
“Road relays were so popular in the 60s, 70s and 80s and there were events almost every weekend. The Jalan Duta circuit was a popular venue for the races,” said Rajkumar the winner of the men’s 800m Asian Track and Field championship in Jakarta where his wining time 1:47.37 which he set as a 22-year-old on 26th September, 1985 still stands as the national record after 30 years.
“Today road relays has suffered a natural death and I wanted to revive it. This inaugural event has proved that road relays can be made popular again and I intend to work at it to make it popular again.”
The event saw a total of 75 teams (four runners per team) register in seven categories – Men’s Open, Women’s Open, Men’s Veteran, Men’s Junior, Women’s Junior, Boys and Girls to compete.
While the response from the competitors was considered good for starters, the support from sponsors was lukewarm.
But that has not dampened Rajkumar’s spirit and believes that after the success of the inaugural event, the support next year will be better.
“I thank all those who supported us this year which include the Olympic Council of Malaysia through Move Malaysia programme, Milo, 100PLUS, Bata, Youth on Unity, individual sponsors.
“I am hoping to get at least 150 teams next year and we have already fixed the date for the first Saturday of September for the annual event. (Next year the event will be held on Sept 2),” said Rajkumar who is born and bred in KKB known as the ‘Sleepy Town’ those days.
“In fact, I have plans of having a few legs culminating with the Grand Final. If the support is good, I am even prepared to run the races in other states with the Grand final in KKB in September.”
Rajkumar also has plans to set up an academy for middle distance runners in KKB and hopes to work closely with the Malaysian Athletics Federation (MAF) and National Sports Council (NSC).
The race was flagged off by Datuk Nazifuddin Mohd Najib, vice-president of the Olympic Council of Malaysia and attended by former Malaysian National Cycling Federation (MNCF) president, Tan Sri Darshan Singh Gill, his son Datuk Amarjit, the current vice-president of MNCF and team manager to the cycling team to the recent Rio Olympics and Datuk Ramlan Abdul Aziz, the special adviser to the Sports Minister.
Nazifuddin said that the road relay race has tremendous potential to become popular again judging from the response.
“This is a team race unlike marathons and runs and this cultivates comradeship and working for each other. Running in a team adds fun to the race too. And the fact that it is held in a small town like KKB means it even more meaningful as the locals have an event to look forward too and it is also an experience for the runners to race in a new environment,” said Nazifuddin.
“I am confident that this event will grow big and attract more participants in the coming years.”
The atmosphere at the event was electrifying with parents, teachers and friends all congregating to support the participants.
Others notable personalities present included middle distance coach A. Tripadi, also from Kuala Kubu Baru, who nurtured Rajkumar to become an iconic athlete, Education Ministry deputy sorts director and chief national athletics coach, Zainal Abbas, former national athletes K. Jayabalan, Datin Mona Chin, Irene Wan, Yamuna Nair, Angeline Chivapathy, Samson Vallbouy and Josephine Mary.
Even the heavy shower before the start of the race failed to dampen the spirit of the participants who were all anxious to get on with the race.
The 5.25km circuit which each member of the four member team ran was challenging but scenic which made the run very pleasant.
OCM Vice President Dato Mohd Nazifuddin Najib Razak flagging off the runners
Clubs from Perak stood out with Panther Club from Ipoh coached by Jayabalan won the men’s open and were runners up in the women’s category, while Taiping Children Home won the Junior Girls (16-17 years) category and Kelab Olahraga Garuda Ipoh won the Girls (13-15 years) category and finished third in the Boys category.
Panther’s first runner in the men’s open category, Mahathir Hyder Ali ran an impressive 17 min 56 secs over the 5.25 km for the fastest time in the event.
His team comprising Dhamadeshen Ramesh, Jai Hind, Ristharan Achari finished the race in a total of 1:16.24 to clock the best time in the event too.
Men Open (18-39 years old)
Panther Ahtletic Club Ipoh – Sharivin Murugesu, Dhamadeshen Ramesh, Mahathir Hyder Ali, Risitharan Achari.(1’16:24)
Jedi Council – Khirren Rreddy, Lim Wen Shan, Azwan Bunjing, Mohd Saddam Mohd Pittli (1’17:22)
Not Fast Just Furious! — Tam Yong Zhi, Thinnieshkumaran Ruggarudee, Daniel Lai Yew Jun, Pua Chin Kuan (1’20:33)
Women Open (18-30 years old)
Powerpuff Girls & Mojojojo
Colleen R Augustine, Ho Kah Mun, Chua Khit Yeng, Melissa Lim Yi Xin (1’42:39)
Panther Athletic Club — Kirthiba Songoda, Jeenifer Aishwariya, Nivedya Munikrishnan, Narmadha Do Munikrishnan (1’43:48)
MIFA Hulu Selangor — Kanekeswari Dharmalingam, Pavithira Krishnan, Pavithra Balakrishnan, Liew Zi Qi (2’18:18)
Men Veteran (40 years above)
Skechers Malaysia — Munintaran Sundram, Tang Yew Choy, Kok Meng Cheu, Koh Sen Chun (1’27:08)
Tan Kuan Meng, Lim Pau Siang, Ooi Lai Huat, Chan Yan San (2’00:03)
The Samadians– Patrick Ong Chee Khoon, Ng Sze Meng, Liew Chee Seng, Lai Chow Hoong.(2’04:18)
Men Junior (16-17 years old)
No Name — Muhammad Ismail Abdullah, Muhammad Asyraf Azman, Haziq Mohamed Hatta, David Leong (1’30:30)
MIFA Hulu Selangor (C) — Sates Devarajan, Thanaselan Sekar, Nagahvarma Raman, Balamurugan Murugesu (1’45:04)
Tabura One– Rudren Selvakumar, Swamynathan Nurugaih, Siva Santhan Mohan, Nik Muhammad Faidhi (1’55:44)
Women Junior (16-17 years old)
Taiping Children Home — Jennifer Aishwariya Superamaniam, Shalini Mogan, Taschna Priyaa Krishnan, Kirthana Loganathan (2’07:40)
Tabura Purple — Nur Anis Natasha, Anis Yusrins Lazim, Nur Aina Irdyena, Nur Aina Farzana (2’53:12)
MIFA Hulu Selangor — Lavanya Bathumalai, Lavaneia Bathmanathan, Ashwanya Bathumalai, Kavishini Mahendran (2’57:14)
Girls (13 – 15 years old)
Kelab Olahraga Garuda Ipoh — Loshini Ragu, Hema Vathi Kumaraguru, Yogashree Raja Sehkaran, Yap Shen Hwei (1’54.:02)
Pantai Princesses — Nur Shammeza Shamsul, Nur Hanis Samad, Raja Nur Shahirah, Siti Hajar Sulaiman (1’58:16)
SMJK Katholik — Krittikah Muniandy, Thasalini Latchumanan, Thiviya Simathirirao, Dinisha Muruga (2’19:56)
Klang Red Devils — Aajitshwar Ganesan, Tanesh Pushpanathan, Ajaytshwar Ganesan, Devesshraja Sathiahmoorthy. (1’24:29)
SMK Kuala Kubu Baru
Dhana Ruban Kalimuthu, Avinanswaer Austin, Pravin Muniandy, Sarawanan Renganathan (1’26:17)
Kelab Olahraga Garuda Ipoh — Thanagaren Avindran, Matesh Kirubakaran, Saran Raj Balakrishnan, Moganakumaran Munusamy (1’27:01)