The long jump to the stage
I was drawn to the Long Jump during my primary years at ACS.There was a pit behind the toilets at the field whose bamboo fence ran parallel to the railway line. We were allowed to jump during PE classes when sports day neared. I had my share of fruitless, futile leaps that took me barely two feet into the pit. My jumping (take-off) leg was right, but somehow I never got it to the board on that foot.
In my lower secondary years, when I was in Form 1 I think, my curiosity about this strange event (landing on sand as if biting the dust) turned into a keenness. But I still couldn’t take off on a jump to take me beyond 13 feet on landing. Until…
Mr Kwa Ewe Yin suggested to me to meet him one afternoon. At the long-jump pit. He was then our—maybe– General Science teacher. He could have noticed my desparate attempts to clear a better length, aka jump further. He told me to stand facing away from the pit, with my take-off foot over half the jumping board. This happened to be my right foot, on my right leg.He then told me to walk ten steps (away from the pit). I reached my tenth step on my take-off foot and leg, It was an even number step, of course. Mr Kwa next had me put a stone on the grass to mark off that tenth step; then, turn around, and walk back toward the pit, the same way I had walked away from it. I did, and reached the board with my right, take-off foot, smack in the middle of that piece of wood sunk into the ground..
“Okay, now instead of walking away from the pit, run ten steps, taking off on your left leg.” I did, and Mr Kwa marked off my tenth running stride. “ Now run back toward the pit in the same way, at the same speed, as you did away from it. This time, jump when you hit the board, and land as far as you can, on the sand.” I did as told, and never looked back thereafter. I remember I thanked Mr Kwa Ewe Yin for his help. Neither of us knew how far I would one day clear on that pit. Except that…
In my upper secondary years, I would place a low hurdle at the edge of the pit, and (by now an ‘expert’ in getting the length of my run-up, equivalent to 20 strides at full speed, to measuring tape accuracy) jump over that hurdle to gain height in the air. Also by now, I had been encouraged by what I had read in an old book on athletics my father had in the house,to adopt the ‘paddle’ style to plough through the air to achieve a longer distance– hopefully.
Trouble was, the long jump pit ended up near the Ladies’ Room, which jutted onto the field. Jumpers had to avoid hitting its metal grille outer wall, or we simply smacked out palms on it like a driver had to hit the brakes of a car abruptly. The situation was not helped by my being told by Mr David Boler, the school’s sports secretary, that he was lengthening the pit “ for your sake, Eddy!”. Perhaps Mr Boler was speaking predictively. But my first claim to fame occurred at another pit, on a rainy afternoon.
For reasons I never got to know, the final of my Class 2 Long Jump event was to be conducted at a location away from the school field. The school had dug a pit beside the front hedge that lined the ACS boundary with Lahat Road! But no bother, we jumped, under the eyes of Mr Ramalingam (who happened to be my maths teacher then, in 1959, my Form Four year.) The maths teacher did not flinch when he measured my winning distance as 20 ft. 11 ¾ inches. That broke the Class 1 record held by Chee Hoi Voon (for around 32 years, I think). But since it was a Class 2 event, he distance could not be ratified as a new Class 1 record. So….
In 1960, when I was in Form Five, the event’s final (this time held at the pit facing the Ladies’ Room) saw me clearing 22 ft. 1 ½ inches (later converted to 6.74 metres) on a warm late-morning . The teachers who witnessed the jump included Mr Aw Boon Jin who supervised the distance measured. The achievement prompted the principal Mr Teerath Ram to arrange for Mr Chee Hoi Voon to present me with a token prize at the end of the formal Sports Day.
The jumping did not end there. I was encouraged to continue outside school, at Perak State combined schools, and adult meets. The best result of these efforts was my winning the Long Jump at the Malaysian Combined Schools Meet (at the Merdeka Stadium in Kuala Lumpur, in August of 1962 when I was an upper-secondary student.)
All this, because Mr Kwa Ewe Yin kindly spent one afternoon showing me the correct approach to doing the Long Jump, for which I will not stop being grateful.
All this was long before I reached the stage. For another long tenure as something else. But that story is not relevant here!
Old Salts, Eddy Chin & Dato’ Kong How Kooi (on the right) at Trinity Methodist Church, PJ – 1.1.2012
(Eddy Chin was a pupil of ACS Ipoh from Primary through Secondary years, 1951 to l962. He graduated from U.Malaya in 1966 with a Bachelor of Arts (Honours), and a Diploma in Education in 1969. He taught at his alma mater in 1969-1970. He has lived in Petaling Jaya since 1971, but has repeatedly returned to ACS Ipoh to share his other interest, singing, with audiences. He now teaches aspiring singers ,with time enough for guest appearances, as well as serves as a teacher of ‘O’ Level English Language at a church’s home school in KL. Both his long jump records at ACS Ipoh still stand: at 6.37 metres (for Class 2, set in 1959) and 6.74 metres (for Class 1, set in 1960)