Only the best for para athletics coach Jaganathan

Jaganathan is Coach of the Year for the second time. — Malay Mail pic

PETALING JAYA, April 27 — Malaysian para athletics coach Jaganathan Ramasamy rewrote the history books by becoming the only para athletics coach to win the prestigious Coach of the Year award twice.

After winning in 2014 for an incredible 15-gold medal haul at the Incheon Para Asian Games, Jaganathan was rewarded for his efforts in leading our Paralympic athletics team to three gold medals in the 100m, shot putt and long jump and bronze in the women’s long jump event at last year’s Rio Paralympics.

“The thing I’m happiest about is a para coach can win the overall award,” said the 60-year-old.

“Ever since we came back from Brazil people on the streets have been coming up to me, telling me how much they appreciated my hard work, giving me hugs and telling me they were behind me and encouraging me to keep working hard.”

His relationship with 100m champion Ridzuan Puzi — who suffers from cerebral palsy — moved a nation when they embraced each other after his triumphant sprint.

Ridzuan was in tears whe he referred to Janathan as his “second father.”

“I never cared what race, colour or religion an athlete was. As far as I’m concerned, whoever has the ambition, drive and tenacity to be a champion must always don national colours,” said the former Maybank coach.

“Giving me this award is recognition and validation for all the coaches in the paralympic programme. It’s wonderful NSC (National Sports Council) and the sports ministry did not separate the categories.

“My work is not done. We are aiming for a few gold medals at the World Para Athletics Championships in London,” said the tenacious Jaganathan of the meet from July 14 to 23.

Jaganathan has been a coach for 36 years and was previously best known for training middle distance king M. Ramachandran, who won eight gold medals at the SEA Games from 1993 to 1999 in the 5,000m and 10,000m including two silvers in the 1989 edition.

Upon retiring from Maybank, he joined NSC with an eye to help disabled athletes win gold at the Paralympics.

At the London 2012 Games Malaysia won one silver and one bronze.

At the 2014 Incheon Para Asian Games in South Korea the team came back with 15 gold, 20 silver and 27 bronze medals.

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