Known as the region's "flying doctor" and "the fastest man in Asia" during his heyday, ACSian Datuk Dr. M. Jegathesan made history in 1962 when he became the first Malaysian to win an Asian Games gold medal in Jakarta. Jega (as he is popularly known) was named the nation's Sportsman of the Year in 1966, after bagging three golds for Malaysia at the 1966 Asian Games in Bangkok. Another feather in his cap was the honour of being the first Malaysian to reach the semi-final of an Olympic event at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics and at the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico. Till today, his 200m and 400m national records established in 1968 and 1966 respectively, are still intact.

Academically, Jega also stood out. He was a Seow Poh Leng medallist when he topped the ACS Class of 50 (together with John Liu). In his distinguished medical career, he excelled in the field of microbiology and infectious diseases and has served in numerous national and international medical and scientific bodies, including stints as chairman and member of the Scientific and Technical Advisory Committee of the WHO's special programme on Tropical Diseases Research based in Geneva from 1995 to 2001.

A Modest & Simple Man
Despite his many successes and the impressive string of academic and sporting achievents, Jega remains a modest and simple man. The following extract from his book, "A Decade on Cinders", demonstrates his unassuming nature after he clinched Malaysia's first ever Asian Games gold medal in Jakarta: "On my return home however, I was not quite prepared for the accolade and tickertape welcome that was accorded me. I was just a simple medical student who loved to run and loved to win. I could not accept that what was to me a very private hobby had won the acclaim and admiration of an entire nation. I felt uncomfortable and very quickly withdrew to the sanctuary of my studies at the University of Singapore. I did not even spend a day in Kuala Lumpr and turned down all invitations to celebration dinners".

Jega has his early education in Kuala Lumpur. When his parents decided to send him to Singapore in 1956 to further his education, he chose the prestigious Anglo-Chinese School because of its reputation in both sports and studies.

Recalling his first year in ACS, Jega admitted that it was a period of adjustment, sometimes difficult, as "the school work was going on at a different pace, particularly in Mathematics and English where the rest of the class had by that time already covered parts of the syllabus not quite done in Malayan primary schools." But one thng was certain - he made a commitment to himself that he was going to excel in his studies, putting sports aside for the time being.

Proud to be an ACSian
1957 was a memorable year for Jega. Firstly, he earned a place in the school athletics team for the all-important Inter-School meet which was no mean feat considering the many other fine and older athletes in the school then. Jega felt really proud to don the school's colours, and even more proud to be part of the ACS athletic team, as he reminisced in his book.

Secondly, he came of age when he turned up in his first pair of long pants at the victory dinner hosted by the old boys to celebrate the school's Inter-School Championship success! As he sheepishly described in his book: ".... I was so self-conscious that as soon as reached the venue of the dinner, I quickly took a seat in an unobstrusive corner and made sure that I never moved from there so that as few people as possible noticed me in my new acquisition. However, that did not totally eradicate the jibes from my usual friends."

The Four "D"s
Yet, 1957 was not a particularly good year for Jega on the athletic field. He confessed that however well he did in any event, there was on particular athlete who was better - Choo Teck Long. He had to wait till the following year before he could beat Teck Long.

According to Teck Long, "When he did so, it came as no surprise. Those who know Jega well will attest that once he sets a goal for himself, he will stay focused and committed, and will work feverishly towards achieving it through the four "D"s (Direction, Determination, Dedicationa and Discipline) - the driving forces that guided him through school and his successful career".

"I would like to think that I was instrumental in spurring him on to improve so quickly and mature to be an Olympian", Teck Long quipped.

As classmate and fellow athlete, Dr Victor Yong, recalls: "At medical school, he was in my clinical group of 10, and was always known to sleep the earliest in the hostel, having finished studying, whilst others would only start after he had turned in. This showed how disciplined he was as he was still in training, and how well he managed his time".

Another classmate, Akbar Khan, describes Jega as a studious young man who was ever willing to share his notes with his classmates. "I remember, each time just before the exams, I would park myself at Jega's house on a daily basis, and would run through his notes and ask him all kinds of questions in preparation for the exam. He was very willing and helpful".

Jega credits the alma mater for forging not only his future, but also that of the multitudes of high achievers the school produces year after year. According to him "The school provided me the right milieu, values and inspiration to fully exploit my potential. I guess the fine tradition of the school and the constant contact we had with it must have also played a signification role."

Jega and his wife, Lee Hong, are blessed with three wonderful children and one grandchild. Their eldest daughter Ashelee is a lawyer in Melbourne. Shireen, their second daughter is an arts graduate living in Canberra, whilst their youngest son, Manika recently graduated as a doctor from the University of Melbourne.

Jega is currently the Chief Executive Officer of Sistem Hospital Awasan Taraf, a health facilities consulting company in Kuala Lumpur, and an Adjunct Professor in the University Putra Malaysia's Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences. He also continues to be actively involved in the sports arena both nationally and internationally, being the Deputy President of the National Olympic Committee of Malaysia as well as a member of the Medical Commission of a number of International Sports Federations.

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