Former International Dilbagh Singh Kler Dies at 76

>> October 19, 2012

Dilbagh Singh Kler (b. 14 April 1936, Kota Kinabalu), one of the Malaysian track and field's most illustrious names died yesterday (18 October 2012) after being admitted a week following a short illness at Queen Elizabeth Hospital II in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah. He was 76 years old.

He started competing internationally in late 1950's and then went to compete in all World's major events likes Olympic Games, Commonwealth Games (formerly British Empire & CWG) and Asian Games. He also appeared in four SEAP Games (now SEA Games).

In 1964, he represented Malaysia at the XVIII Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan. He finished 10th (9:18.8s) in heat 3 of 3000m Steeplechase which was won by Soviet's Adolf Alexeiunas (8:31.8s).

Many national records surpassed and renewed by Dilbagh during his prime time (1960's), the last one was in December 15, 1971 (at age of 35) in Kuala Lumpur where he broke his own 3000m Steeplechase national record with 9:16.0s, which has stood until renewed by M.Ramakrishnan in 1982.

Announced his retirement soon after that, but then involved in many coaching clinics and talent identifications mostly done by himself for decades. And one of his activities was involving myself as a kid/participant back in early 1990's !!

His younger brother Datuk Balwant Singh Ker (b. 1938) is a secretary general of the Asian Triathlon Confederation. Previously served as the official statistician for the Asian Amateur Athletics Association / AAAA (now AAA), and is a member of the Association of Track and Field Statisticians (ATFS) since 1976.

His father Datuk Gurbakhs Singh Kler (b. 1912) migrated to North Borneo (now Sabah, Malaysia) in 1920's, started with sports activities after advised by a doctor, and then became the "VVIP" of the North Borneo / Malayan / Malaysian sports especially athletics. He started compiling athletics statistics in late 1930's and became the author of dozens sports books and statistics. He also went to several Olympics as a manager. In the 50th Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM) anniversary in 2004, he was one of the 50 outstanding retired athletes/officials who inducted into the OCM Hall of Fame, in recognition in their superb contributions.

Dilbagh, until his last breath, "did not manage" to find a Sabahan successor in long distances, as his records at 3000m Steeplechase, 1500m, 5000m , and 10000m (see 'personal bests') remains as the State records of Sabah, while his 800m record was only surpassed in 2008 by youngster Yunus Lasaleh, who later switched into 400m.

In 2006, he was conferred Datukship (equivalent to Knighthood in Britain) by the "Yang Di Pertua Negeri / Head of State".

800 Metres: 1:59.2s (Kuching, 28.7.1968)
1500 Metres: 3:57.1s (Singapore, 3.8.1965)
5000 Metres: 15:13.6s (Singapore, 29.7.1965)
10,000 Metres: 32:41.6s (Manila, 4.3.1962)
3000m Steeplechase: 9:16.0s (Kuala Lumpur, 15.12.1971)


1964 Olympic Games (Tokyo);
10th (heats) 3000m Steeplechase in a time of 9:18.8s

1962 Asian Games (Jakarta)
5th 3000m Steeplechase (9:28.8s)

1966 Asian Games (Bangkok)
9th 3000m Steeplechase (9:27.6s)

1970 Asian Games (Bangkok)
7th 3000m Steeplechase (9:59.0s)

1962 Commonwealth Games (Perth)
10th (Heats) 1 Mile (4:26.0s)
11th 3000m Steeplechase (9:45.0s)

1966 Commonwealth Games (Kingston)
12th 3000m Steeplechase (9:53.2s)
19th 3 Miles (14:54.8s)

SEAP Games
4 Gold Medals from 3000m Steeplechase (3x) and 5000m.

Borneo Games
19 Gold Medals from 1 Mile, 3 Miles, 880 Yards, 800m, 1500m, 5000m

National Championships
9 Gold Medals at Malayan / Malaysian Championships from 1500m, 5000m, 10000m 3000m Steeplechase

by Jad Adrian (ATFS Statistician), 
and with help from Mr Roger Loong.

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