Book Review “C. KUNALAN, SINGAPORE’S GREATEST TRACK AND FIELD ATHLETE” by Eugene

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Seeing so many book reviews written by Clara, I am inspired to do the same as well. So here I am, writing a review of a book that I had read during the December vacation: “C. KUNALAN, SINGAPORE’S GREATEST TRACK AND FIELD ATHLETE”.

Maybe it is fated or love at first sight, but this book caught my eye immediately as I was strolling in the library. I had long heard of Mr. Kunalan’s fame as a national athlete. And to my surprise, this book is written by our very own coach, Mr. Steven Quek! These reasons are more than enough to entice me to pick up the book without a hesitation. If only the above were true for girls as well…

As the title suggested, the book is a biography of Mr. Kunalan’s life. The book starts by giving the readers an account of his childhood and subsequently, brings the readers through the various struggles that Mr. Kunalan faced as he established numerous national sprint records. Such obstacles include juggling his job as a full time teacher while training with the national team, narrative accounts of his various overseas trips like the Mexico Olympics 1968 and study trips in Germany while managing to keep close to his family all at the same time. The book then went on to write about Mr. Kunalan’s career in Singapore’s sporting scene after he hung up his spikes as well as a daily summary of his current life too. Not surprisingly to many of you, what fascinates me the most is the meticulous recount of his love life, such as moments leading up to his first kiss, his family initial objections to his inter-racial marriage and nuggets of information about his blissful marriage. In fact, Mr. Kunalan and his wife were one of the “ambassador couples” recommended by National Family Council. How I wish my future will be as wonderful as well.

Moreover, the book gives us a glimpse into the thought processes going through Mr. Kunalan’s mind throughout his countless training sessions, pre-race preparations and of course, the actual races themselves. This includes his 1968 10.38sec (100m) National Record that remained unbroken for 26 years! As a runner myself, I often find it difficult to put down such thoughts on pen and paper. From Mr. Kunalan’s thoughts, we can see that his accomplishments are not solely his individual effort. Behind each of his record-breaking feats lies the hard work of the entire support crew, such as his coach, training partners, race rivals and most importantly, his wife and family. Without each of their support, there is little doubt that Mr. Kunalan will be able achieved so much for so long.

Despite being branded as “Singapore’s greatest track and field athlete”, Mr. Kunalan remains a humble individual who always try to give his best to himself, his students and family. Even today at an age of 70, Mr. Kunalan try his best to continue to support Singapore’s sports scene, such as sitting on the various sporting committees like the Singapore National Olympic Council and giving motivation and fitness talks to schools and Army Fitness Centres etc. Indeed, Mr. Kunalan is a worthy role model that all Singaporeans, athletes or not, can look up to.

If you want to read this book, it is easily available at most NLB libraries near you.

– Eugene

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