C.M. Muthiah passes away aged 85

C.M. Muthiah, veteran athlete, coach and one of India’s best-known sports administrators, passed away on Thursday owing to age-related issues.

Muthiah, a contemporary of the great Milkha Singh, was a five-time National decathlon champion from 1956-60 and became the first Indian to participate at the World University Games in Budapest in 1954.   -  THE HINDU ARCHIVES

C.M. Muthiah, veteran athlete, coach and one of India’s best-known sports administrators, passed away here on Thursday owing to age-related issues. He was 85 and is survived by his wife and daughter.

Muthiah, a contemporary of the great Milkha Singh, was a five-time National decathlon champion from 1956-60 and became the first Indian to participate at the World University Games in Budapest in 1954. At the 1958 Tokyo Asian Games, he missed a decathlon medal by 82 points.

In his years as a coach at the National Institute of Sport (Patiala) from 1962, Muthiah trained 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 among others. He retired in 1990 as Director.

“He shaped the careers of India's premier jumpers,” Pillai said. “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.”

“But he told me to stick around and said that he had full confidence in me. Fortunately the selection committee included me and I went on to win a medal. That was the kind of trust he had in us. He looked after us like his own children.”

For Beedu, veteran athletics coach and Dronacharya awardee, it was like a personal loss. “I lost my coach today,” he said. “It’s a big loss. Every month I used to go to him and we would talk only sports. He was one of my most inspiring coaches.”

As an administrator, Muthiah played a key role in establishing the SAI South Centre in Bengaluru. Such was his interest in the technical side of the sport, that he earned his Masters and Doctorate degrees in biomechanics from the reputed German University of Physical Culture in Leipzig. When India hosted the Asian Games in 1982 he was the natural choice for the role of technical director.