BY CLEMENT DU PLESSIS
FORMER Natal star athlete and 1969 treble champion of the South African Amateur Athletic and Cycling Board of Control, Jock (Mahalingham) Maduray, is on a visit in Cape Town. Athletics Clipboard caught up with him.
It is just over 50 years since Maduray stunned crowds at the national championships by winning three national titles (400m, 800m and 1500m) in spectacular fashion. The middle-distance athlete recorded two new records at the Green Point (blue track) Stadium: 49,8 seconds in the senior men’s 400m and four minutes in the 1 500m.
The 400m record
The quiet and well-spoken Maduray, 73, tells a wonderful story of how the race and SA 400m record unfolded:
“I was eating a piece of chicken in the stands when I realised the athletes were under starter’s orders. I ran down to the starting line to occupy lane one which was vacant, only to be told by the starter’s steward that I should run in the outside lane, following complaints by a few Western Province (WP) athletes.”
This he did. Photographs depict Maduray beating his WP competitors, including Robin April, very convincingly.
April had beaten Maduray in an 880-yard race a year earlier at a club meeting held at the Green Point Track. It was the only time, though, that April had beaten Maduray over any of the three distances.
Cape Town trips
Natal athletes frequently travelled to WP club meetings in the 1960s and 1970s.
“A friend, who followed athletics in South Africa, offered us a lift from Durban to Cape Town. He would usually take six athletes with him and drive the entire distance by himself,” recalls Maduray.
“We used to walk down to Green Point Track where we trained,” says Maduray.
Maduray was coached by Barry Jacobson, a white coach who later interested Maduray to a competition with Humphrey Khosi, the black South African 880 yards champion, who was consistently a sub-one minute and 50 seconds runner. However, Maduray declined because of political pressure at the time.
Maduray has the build of a middle-distance runner with ‘heart’, a theme he tracks throughout our conversations. Few runners had the ‘heart’ to get the job done on the track, he believed. Many trained hard, but few could translate their efforts on the big occasions because they had no ‘heart’.
While Roman had his fans, Maduray picked out Blows as the sprint athlete of his time. “Now there’s a sprint champion,” he said, his face lighting up with admiration.
Blows was the dominant senior men’s champion in the 1960s, although he had lost the 1969 SA titles to Roman.
Maduray also appreciated among others, the talents of WP’s Wilson Claasen (800m) and John Wippenaar in the 200m. He cited Wippenaar and Vivian Pillay as the two sprinters who looked awesome coming out of the bend. He’s never seen anything like them on the world stage; the image of them out of the turn.
Hewat Training College
Maduray remembers an ‘incident’ at Hewat Training College when he and a few Natal athletes competed in a college meeting. “The rector, Mr G Oosthuizen [the last white rector at the time] called me to his office. I was worried that I was in some kind of trouble, but he offered our team tea and sandwiches instead.”
He also enquired about Dollar Brand (Abdullah Ebrahim) whom the Natal athletes met in a jazz club in Cape Town in the 1960s. Ebrahim, a fitness guru, joined the Natal athletes during training at the Green Point Track. Besides jazz music, Ebrahim, a martial arts Black Belt with a lifelong interest in zen philosophy, was also a Sensei in Athlone.
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