JV Jayan – A legend that will never be forgotten

JV Jayan has left us.

The iron man of athletics , equally apt in football, hockey and even badminton, passed away at the age of 74 on Thursday.

His body was found by his brother in law, Soffian Sta Maria , a.k.a Clarence Sta Maria, at the latter ‘s house in Rasah Jaya, Seremban.

If there is one that rightfully should be called a legend, then it has to be Jayan, a man who spoke little, hardly smiled, but highly disciplined in his tasks, focussed to the core and let his work do the talking

Jayan was a mentor to many, a friend to a whole lot and a brotherly figure to those who knew him.

A national and international decathlon champion, Jayan coached many athletes at one time or another, amongst whom were Nur Herman Majid ( 110m Hurdles) R. Thangavelu (800m/1500m), S. Vasu (800m/4x400m), R. Morgan (Big Walk), R. Ramakrishnan (3000m Steeplechase), G. Krishnan (5000m/10000m), S. Rathimalar (400m Hurdles) – Commonwealth Games KL, Azmi Abdullah (400m Hurdles).

Nur Herman was a boy from Rembau, that Jayan identified, who went on to represent the nation in the 1995 Atlanta Olympics .

And one individual that stayed close to Jayan was quarter miler and hurdler Anto Kenny Martin.

It was in 1985 that Jayan showed his ability in identifying future champions.

Anto Kenny Martin was a youngster who was barely 20 and in two minds on his sporting future.

On one hand, he was training under the guidance of the late Michael Yan for a place in the Negri Sembilan U20 Hockey side that was preparing for the Alagendra Cup National U20, that NS was hosting.

And Kenny used to dash across from the famed NS Padang to the KGV field, to train as an athlete, under the watchful eyes of Jayan.

It went in for a week and Jayan noticed Kenny was slackening in training .

An extended run of 600 metres, saw Kenny vomiting and out came the truth.

“ You have to make a choice boy, it’s either athletics or hockey,” recalled Kenny as his voice broke recounting his moments with Jayan.

Kenny got dropped from the hockey squad, but it was only four years later that he found out that Jayan had spoken to Michael to drop him after the two discussed his potential in both sport and where he could excel.

And Kenny went on to record 52.5secs in the 1989 MAAU meet held at the Merdeka Stadium.

Kenny did the impossible, breaking Karu Selvaratnam’s longstanding record of 24 years of 52.7s that was set in 1965, a year before Kenny was even born.

It was in 1992 that I sat down with Jayan to discuss how we could together help athletics in NS.

And with funding from Yayasan NS, a plan was put in place to win 6 gold medals at the 1994 Sukma.

It was then I got to see for myself the dedication and determination of Jayan, who was truly a gentle giant.

Jayan’s best moment as a coach was at the 1997 Jakarta SEA Games where Malaysia won 16 gold medals in athletics, the nation’s best ever feat at a time when our current Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin was the Youth and Sports Minister.

I used to catch up with Jayan at the NSC Cafeteria and the look in his eyes showed he was destined to bring glory to the nation, this time as the Chief Coach.

“ We have the material , it’s only how much effort that the athlete and coach puts in that eventually will make the difference,” Jayan said to me as I sought his views on sports over tea at Bukit Jalil having years before that shared the same conversation at Kilat Club in Seremban.

I had known Jayan since 1979 having faced his wrath several times whike umpiring in the NS Hockey League.

A no nonsense defender, Jayan was a person that no forward wanted to try beat.

“ My style was simple, either the man or the ball goes past me, no two ways about it,” Jayan used to say as we went around several entertainment outlets that Jayan used to look after as his part time job.

Jayan went in to form a deadly partnership with the late Tara Singh and Bhagat Singh in Kilat ( today known as TNB).

The trio were tough nuts and in the first few minutes, will drive the ball so close to your ankles in the 16 yard hits that it sent shivers down any forwards spine.

“ That’s the key towards being a good defender. Put fear into them, so they will think twice,” chuckled Jayan as he spoke on the several incidents he had with his brother- in-laws, Clarence and James De Cruz atbthe NS Padang and at times ending up at NS Club.

Jayan was a doer rather than a politician, as compared to those in sports today.

Having read the main stream media today, it’s heartbreaking that only one paper actually reported his demise, when in the 1990’s Jayan’s phone used to ring non-stop and he was ever accommodating to all journalists, old or new.

J. Viyayan A/L N.J Pillai or affectionately known as J.V Jayan or Jayan, was also known as Vincent.

His brother Richard Nathan was also a former national athlete.

He leaves behind two chidren , Kenneth Thomas and Joanne, both of whom are now living in Perth.

It’s sad that most of his friends, colleagues, protégé, as well as fans, could not pay their last respects to a legend due to the Movement Control Order (MCO) .

Jayan’s cremation will be at 3pm today at the Jalan Templer Crematorium in Seremban.

But as many will, let us all cherish the good memories we had with Jayan and say a prayer for his departed soul.

May his soul rest in peace.

As the remains of our Ironman turns into ashes, tear rolls down my cheek, sad that our state never gave this hero his due recognition .

Hopefully the Lord will do so and place Jayan in the gardens of heaven.

May you Rest In Peace my friend after a journey where you touched many hearts.