Sports

Singapore's oldest Olympian Dr Arumugam Vijiaratnam dies aged 94

Singapore's oldest Olympian, Dr Arumugam Vijiaratnam, died in his sleep yesterday morning.

He was 94, and leaves behind three daughters and a son.

According to Channel NewsAsia, Vijiaratnam, who suffered from asthma, underwent heart surgery 40 years ago, and was diagnosed with lung cancer two months ago.

He (above) is the only Singaporean to have represented the Republic at international level in four sports - football, hockey, rugby and cricket.

His achievement is published in the Singapore Guinness Book of Records.

The former Victoria School boy grew up in Spottiswoode Park and played football for his adopted state Selangor in the Malaya Cup in 1947 and 1948.

He focused his energies on hockey from 1955, playing for Ceylon Sports Club. The forward was part of the Singapore hockey team that played at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics, where the Republic finished eighth.

He once said in an interview: "I always enjoyed the forward's role, be it hockey or football because that was where the glamour was.

"Scoring goals was a pleasure and you get the biggest cheers when you put the ball in the back of the net.

"You become a hero instantly and you get a lot more fans chasing you for autographs!"

Vijiaratnam completed his engineering degree at England's Brighton College of Advanced Technology and returned to Singapore in 1953 as an engineer.

He worked for the Public Works Department and Port of Singapore Authority, and retired from the latter at age 75 as its director of engineering.

Vijiaratnam was also the first Asian vice-president of the UK's Institution of Structural Engineers, the first Pro-Chancellor of Nanyang Technological University from 1992 to 2005, the president of the Institution of Engineers (Singapore), Board Chairman of Tamil Murasu and a World Bank consultant.

"Despite being involved in so many things, he was still a full-time family man who raised four kids who all become professionals who are now doing well," CNA quoted son Vijendran Vijiaratnam as saying.

"He had 94 and a half years of a brilliant life, doing things people can't do in their 60s, 70s, let alone 50s."

Vijiaratnam's wake is at 5 Maryland Drive.

SingaporeOlympicsDr Arumugam VijiaratnamDeathFootballHockeyRugbysportsUncategorised