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Time to make bigger strides in walking

As published in The Mole today
Subramaniam and Ashvinderjeet sharing a light moment
at the Astaka on March 6. - Picture by Haresh Deol
By Haresh Deol
ASHVINDERJEET SINGH walks at remarkable speeds as his hips dance gracefully to the rhythm of his pace.
He goes around the track at the Titiwangsa Lake Gardens’ Astaka almost daily, under the watchful eyes of his coach V. Subramaniam, the 1978 National Sportsman of the Year.
Walking, in athletics, is an art. It requires little investment (in equipment) but promises the greatest gift any Malaysian athlete yearns for – an Olympic medal.
“Some of my friends say walking is more suited for girls, because of the way the hips move. But I don’t care,” said Ashvinderjeet, who turns 14 on April 24.
Ashvinderjeet could turn out to be Kuala Lumpur’s medal prospect in the National Schools Sports Council (MSSM) athletics meet next month. He hopes to make the city team during the selection process scheduled next week.
“My personal best in the 5km event is 27 minutes but I hope to record 24 minutes if I compete in MSSM,” he said.
Born in Ipoh, the former SK Danau Kota 2 student started off running in the 800m event and earned a spot at SMK Seri Titiwangsa, a school that houses some of the best student athletes in the city.
“My coaches at that time noticed I had the right techniques in walking and decided I should switch from running to walking.”
When asked why walking when it’s almost every boy’s dream to be a footballer, shuttler or hockey player, he said: “I don’t like hockey. I never thought much about the other sports. 
“I’ve fallen in love with walking, especially with coach Subramaniam guiding me all the way.”
“I hope to be the next Narinder Singh,” Ashvinderjeet said, in reference to the former national walker who holds the national 20km walk record of 1:24:50s set in 1997.
Narinder’s SEA Games record of 1:33:47.87s, set in 1999 in Brunei, was smashed by Indonesian Hendro (1:32:11.0s) in Kuala Lumpur last year.
Walking, a sporting event that is often overlooked, has contributed the most SEA Games gold medals for the national athletics team, said Subramaniam.
“Just look at our record. When I was a walker, I won six SEA Games gold medals. As a coach, my walkers have won nine. I even qualified for the 1980 Moscow Olympics (which Malaysia eventually boycotted),” added Subramaniam who has coached, among others, Annastasia Karen Raj, Shahrulhaizy Abdul Rahman, Loo Choon Sieng and Narinder.
“We even won a Commonwealth Games gold medal through G. Saravanan (50km walk at the 1998 Games in Kuala Lumpur). So why aren’t we focusing on a sport that has been delivering medals all this while?”
Read the full article here.

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