Representing Singapore in the 1988 Olympic Games, Gary Chelliah competed in the 4 x 100 track & field event. Now, with a distinguished 25 year retail career behind him, Gary is VP of Sales and Training with The Mann Group.
Gary is far left in this picture.
As the opening ceremonies of the 2012 Olympic Games in London begin, we thought it would be interesting to sit down with Gary and ask him some questions on his Olympic experience:
1) As a former Olympian, what are you feeling as the 2012 Olympics are starting?
Very excited and cannot wait. I never think of it very much until these times. Just remembering the sounds, sights, smells, friends, athletes, commotion, excitement brings goose bumps.
2) As an athlete, who was your biggest mentor?
My dad was a huge mentor for me (his brother was a tremendous athlete as well)…in terms of athletes – Carl Lewis and Renaldo Nehemiah (I started as a hurdler first)
3) If you could have done one thing differently leading up to the Olympics, what would it have been?
Not sure if I would have done anything different as I had trained and sacrificed a lot to get there. However, growing up in Singapore back in those days – not much emphasis was put into sports. It was the love of the sport that many athletes worked for. It is a very different ideal today – awesome!!
4) While you were competing at the Olympics, did you feel that PED’s might have been used by some competitors?
Absolutely. 1988 was the year Ben Johnson was exposed. I feel like he was the only big name to be caught.
5) How many times were you tested at the Olympics for PED’s
Zero at the Olympics but was tested during qualifying in Singapore – the officials concentrated more on the potential winners and finalist back 24 years ago. In watching a clip a couple of days ago, the methods used back then compared to today seemed so primitive (LOL)
6) What item did you get at the Olympics that you cherish more than any other item?
The Singapore contingent were all given a commemorative medal for participation. When my dad passed away, together with my very first track trophy I had won at aged 7, I placed both items in his coffin. My mom still keeps some trinkets, badges, passes, etc for me in her home (that I will pass on to my boys or grandchildren one day)
7) Tell us something about the Olympics that the general public might not necessarily know.
For me, it was like trying to meet and see as many ‘who’s who’ in the sporting world. I was a little kid in a candy store and not sure if I got the rest needed to really compete at such a level. The nerves are also at an extreme high all the time but especially during the race. Never felt that nervous before and I still can remember that feeling.
8) At what age did you realize you wanted to be an Olympian?
I was 14 in 1980 and gave up playing soccer competitively to focus on track. I knew that I would have been physically ready by 1988 and had set my sights on Korea.
9) On a scale of 1-10 how would you rank “Natural Ability” and “Work Ethic” to attain athletic greatness?
I believe they go hand-in-hand. I feel that ‘work ethic’ is a choice, and hypothetically, if everyone had the same goals, dreams and were tenacious and committed to working just as hard and beyond to reach it, everyone would be a top athlete. However, only a few have the ‘natural ability’ and talent to really get it done.
10) After your event was finished, how much partying did you do at the Olympics?
Lets just say we did a lot. It happens at every meet/games – there is a lot of stress, tension and anxiety to be released.
Gary at the Golf Show in Vegas