M Harichandra

“I was the first Singaporean to run in the Masters meet”, said Mr Harichandra. That was in 1975 when he took part in the 400 meters race at the first World Association of Veteran Athletes Championships held in Toronto, Canada and won a silver medal. With this victory came his dream to set up the Masters Athletes Association in Singapore. Wanting to create a platform for senior athletes to keep fit and continue running, his dream was realized in the formation of Singapore Masters Athletics Association (known as SAVA) in 1978. He proudly proclaims this as probably his greatest achievement in his sporting life as it was certainly not an easy task to overcome all the challenges and set up an association.

Upon setting up the association, Mr Hari served as the honorary Secretary. He was also the member of the Asian Association until last year when he retired.

Mr Hari was born into a family of runners. His late father, Mr M Vasagam was a 1920s athletic champion in Malaysia and his two brothers were also runners and created history in their own way. Maybe the running genes ‘run’ in their blood!


“That was my contribution, how I started and what it is today is due to my perseverance and fighting the brass.”

Mr Hari did not start his sports life with running but rather cricket and hockey where he represented his school from the age of 11 in Malaysia. He continued these games in Australia and London where he was furthering his studies.

At the age of 23 years, he broke the 2-minute record for the 800 meters in Malaysia after which he went on to represent Malaysia in many more meets.

He eventually came to Singapore and started work as a prison officer at Outram Road in 1957 and still found time to hone his athletic skills whilst coping with the demands of the job. Finally becoming a citizen in 1959, it would also be the first of many times he was to represent Singapore in athletic meets.

Adding to his contributions, Mr Hari prides himself on having groomed many successful athletes under his wing.


“At that time the best runner for the 440yards was my brother. I happened to run with him at the police training school and I beat him. I shocked the whole athletic fraternity in Malaysia.”

While it was his inherent competitive spirit to overcome challenges both on and off the track that took Mr Hari half way across the world to participate in the first World Masters’ meet, he was also clear about when it was time to move on. ‘Once you cannot go across the line as in the past then it is the right time to retire” he says having retired at the age of 59 years from competitive running. Mr Hari jokingly shared that his brothers were the cause of his ‘start and end’ of his competitive running. His athletics journey reached a peak when he beat his elder brother in 1953 and that journey ended when his younger brother started to outperform him.

While he stopped competing with the young and upcoming runners when he retired, Mr Hari did not completely stop running. He continued to compete with athletes in his age group and went on to win 2 Silver and 1 Bronze medal in the World Masters’ meet.


"When you know you cannot go across the line anymore, I think you should retire.”

With Singapore’s 50th year celebration around the corner, Mr Hari’s wish is for more youths and veterans to come forward to actively participate in athletics and make the best use of the sound infrastructure and schemes in place by the Singapore Government.

As for himself, his family legacy continues on with his grandson pursuing athletics under the watchful eye of Grandpa. We at 50faces wish Mr Harichandra and his grandson our best wishes.



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