Year Inducted: 1993
Manikavasagam Namasivayam was born on 2nd July, at the turn of the 20th century in Jaffna, Sri Lanka. Vasagam came to Malaya as a young teen in 1916 while the country was under the rule of the British Empire. His early education was at King Edward School in Taiping. He later worked in the government service in many places around the country including Port Dickson, Seremban and Kuala Kangsar.
He showed a penchant for sports from an early age, and was one of the first local entrants representing the British colony of Malaya at that time. Even though he was a skilled football player, it was in athletics that Vasagam found his footing. He was the first local to win the 440 yards at the MAAA championships in 1924 and 1925 with a time of 56.0 seconds – then considered a remarkable time.
Through his pioneering efforts in setting up sports organizational infrastructure, Vasagam made a name for himself. He was actively involved in football and especially athletics, and was the founder secretary of the Federation of Malaya Amateur Athletic Union (FMAAU), which was the fore runner of the Malaysian Amateur Athletic Union (MAAU). He was also the founder secretary of the Federation of Malaya Olympic Council (FMOC) in 1953, now known as the Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM). He led Malaya’s first entry into the Asian Games in Manila, in 1954. He also played a key role in Malaya’s Olympic debut at the 1956 Games in Melbourne.
Vasagam’s children also went on to contribute significantly towards the development of sports in the country, particularly in athletics. His eldest son was the secretary of the North Borneo AAA, while his three other sons made waves as competitive athletes. M. Jegathesan, once heralded as the “Fastest Man in Asia” and now the Deputy President of the OCM, is one of them.
N. M. Vasagam passed away in 1985, leaving behind a sturdy foundation on which the country continues to build its sporting legacies.