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CM Muthiah, contemporary of Milkha Singh, and a coach par excellence, passes away

CM Muthiah, contemporary of Milkha Singh, and a coach par excellence, passes away

Sarah Waris

Published: 6 Dec 2019 12:11 PM GMT

Codanda Madappa Muthiah, a contemporary of Milkha Singh and a five-time National decathlon champion from 1956 to 1960, passed away on Thursday due to age-related issues. He was 85.

The veteran athlete, who became the first-ever Indian to participate in the World University Games at Budapest in 1954, won a silver in the triple jump event and won the award for the best athlete from developing nations in the tournament. He missed the decathlon medal by 82 points at the 1958 Asian Games that was held in Tokyo, which remained his greatest regret. In an interview given to Times of India, he had said "It was a narrow miss as I lost the bronze by 82 points. I was within touching distance for the silver too but the 100 metres spoiled it. I normally do 10.8 seconds but I ran a 10.9 and squandered 120 points."

The graduate from Central College in Kodagu, Muthiah, however, is best known for his stint as a coach and his role as an administrator, who helped get the Sports Authority of India's South Centre to Bangalore. Such was his interest in running the sport that Mutiah was awarded a gold medal in his Masters and Doctorate Degrees in biomechanics from the University of Physical Culture in Leipzig, Germany. The veteran came on board as the technical director of the Asian Games that India hosted in 1982, and was recently appointed as the adviser of the National Games that was held in Kerala in 2014.

Muthiah's stint as a coach of at the National Institute of Sport in Patiala reaped rich rewards as well. While training the likes of T.C. Yohanan (long jump) and V.S. Chauhan (decathlon), both Asian Games gold medallists, Satish Pillai, Asian Games long jump medallist, and V.R. Beedu from 1962, he also published a new theory about a reverse action during take off in long jump events. During the Mexico Olympics in 1968, when he was a part of the German coaches, Mutiah witnessed Bob Beamon create history as he broke the world record in the long jump event by a margin of 55cm. Muthiah studied Beamon's action during take off, and noticed that the launch angle was 23 degrees, away from the 45 degrees that is considered as perfect.

His astute interest in the technical aspects of the sport, and the manner in which he studied why an athlete was successful helped him win the golden shoe award for the best coach at the 1974 Games in Tehran.

Satish Pillai mourned the loss of his coach and remembered how Mutiah always encouraged his wards even in failures. “He shaped the careers of India's premier jumpers,” Pillai told The Hindu. “Before my first Asian Championship, the qualifying mark was 7.50m. Yohanan qualified but I missed it by one centimeter. It was unlikely they would send two jumpers.”

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