Olympian Hari Chandra quits as WMA Asia rep after decades

Hari Chandra

Hari Chandra of Singapore, one of the founders of Asian masters track and a 1956 Olympian for Malaysia, has resigned as Asia rep on the WMA Council. “Health problems together with a desire to spend more time with his family motivated his decision and he will be missed,” reported WMA. “The president of the Asian Masters Region, Mr. Kiyoshi Kounoike, will fill the vacancy on a temporary basis whilst efforts are made to replace Hari Chandra – a very daunting and difficult task indeed.” Hari is about 83. Time for a nap.

More info came from Masters Mole No. 2445(c)3:

Koinoike is a decent hurdler and the Chairman of Asia Masters
Athletics. If you’ve ever attended a WMA General Assembly, he’s the guy
who stands up and speaks in Japanese, then his translator stands up and
translates what he said. He was on the WMA Non-stadia Committee for
years…. He’s also the
sparkplug behind this meet, which deserves some publicity on your site.

More on Hari is on Singapore masters site:

It all began way back in 1975 when the first World Association of Veteran Athletes Championships (WAVA) was held in Toronto, Canada. Mr. Hari Chandra, Malaysia’s 800 metres representative to the 1956 Olympics Games in Melbourne participated in the inaugural World Association of Veteran Athletes Championships at Toronto as a Singapore Citizen. He ran the 400 metres in the 45 – 49 age group category and won a silver medal with a time of 53.8 seconds.

On his return to Singapore he began proceedings to form a veteran track & field association here. Singapore Association of Veteran Athletes (SAVA) was formed and registered with the Registrar of Societies in 1978. The first President was Mr. T. C. Khoo with Mr. Joseph Yan Kok Peng as Vice President. The honorary Secretary was Mr. Hari Chandra. This Association was formed with the older athletes in mind, athletes who had represented Singapore and who still had the avidness and verve to continue with athletics.

The first Championships were held in Singapore in 1981 and this also served as the 1st Asian Veteran Track & Field Championships. Mr. Hari Chandra was also the Secretary of the Asian Association.

One of the notable athletes who performed well at this Inaugural Games in 1981 was our 1973 South East Asia Games 200 metres gold medalist, Glory Barnabas.

In recent years, WAVA came to be known as World Masters Athletics (WMA) and SAVA is now known as Singapore Masters Athletics (SMA). The Asian Masters Athletics (AMA) Championships are held in the even years with the world editions held in the odd years. Singapore Masters Athletics has stood the challenge of time and continues to serve as role models to both the young and young at heart.

If Hari has any blot on his record, it’s his failure to make India deal fairly with its masters tracksters. They have warring national bodies, where one requires its members to pay-to-play at world masters meets. It got so bad that protests broke out at an Asian masters championships that got police involved.

And India Today reported on the 2012 meet:

Over 250 Indian athletes, some of them as old as 80, were forced to spend a night at the airport and outside the main stadium as they were left in the lurch in Taipei, where they were participating in the 17th Asian Masters Athletics.

Each of the 300 athletes claimed to have paid Rs.19,950 to a relative of the treasurer of the Masters Athletic Federation of India (MAFI) named Sanjay, they claimed in a letter to the Indian Representative Office in Taipei and the India Taipei Association.

A copy of the letter is in Mail Today’s possession. “Several athletes spent the night outside the main stadium in Taipei. It was embarrassing to see Indian athletes treated like this when other countries had their athletes housed in good hotels,” remarked an official on condition of anonymity.

The Asian Masters Athletics is a competition for athletes above the age of 35 and there is no upper age limit. The Indian contingent included several athletes who had managed to shell out Rs.50,000 for the air ticket and hotel expenses.

While some of them who could it, found accommodation in some hotels, most of them were left to fend for themselves leading to embarrassment to the Government of India, which came to know of their only a day later that the athletes didn’t have money to pay for the hotel expenses and were squatting at the airport and outside the Taipei stadium.

India does not have a diplomatic mission in Taipei and has only a handful of officials. The issue was resolved by the Indian representative office with the help of the local Indian association.

The Indian seniors managed 61 gold, 67 silver and 74 bronze medals and were third on the medal tally behind Japan and hosts Taiwan.

India’s representative in Taipei, Pradeep Rawat, has sent a strong report to the government with details of what the athletes had to go through and lack of help from MAFI. “There were 200 senior Indian athletes and some of them complained to us that they paid money to the Secretary General of Master Athletic Federation of India based in Bangalore but no arrangements were made for them athletes,” Rawat told Mail Today. “It was a complete mess-up, but local authorities went out of their way to help these athletes,” he added.

While the Ministry of External Affairs has lodged a strong protest with the sports ministry, sources say that the latter has washed its hands off saying that the athletes had not taken permission from them.

However, the bottom line is that why were these athletes allowed to travel to Taipei if proper arrangements were not in place.

Asked if the incident has tarnished the image of India, he said:” What can I say when country’s athletes have to spend night at the airport and are treated in this way, certainly it has an an impact.”

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July 26, 2013

One Response

  1. David and Linda - August 14, 2013

    We enjoyed working with Hari for many years and appreciated his efforts for masters. Many memories of Hari and his beautiful wife at the international competitions. Our best wishes to Hari in his retirement. He will be missed.

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