T. C. Yohannan — Thadathuvila Chandapillai Yohannan, generally known as T.C. Yohannan has been an Indian Athlete who used to specialize in the Long Jump event and created a National Record in the event that remained unbroken for almost 3 decades.
He was born on the 19th of May 1947 at Kundara village in District Quilon of Kerala. His fascination for Athletics, particularly Long Jump began in a very interesting way, when as a small child he once fell into a canal while not being able to cross it over. His father offered him a glass of lemon juice if he could jump over the canal, and Yohannan was successful this time, only to be smitten by the Long Jump bug. He began with participating in the Inter-School Sports Meet for Ezhukone Panchayat, and after a few years moved to Bhilai for studying Mechanical Engineering.
Beginning of Athletics Career
Yohannan took part in the Prasanna Kumar All India Athletics Meet held at Bangalore, and surprised everybody by winning Gold Medals in Long Jump and Triple Jump events. Immediately, a number of jobs started being offered to him and he preferred to choose TATA Engineering and Locomotive Company (TELCO). He still regards joining TELCO as one of the best decisions he made in his lifetime, as TELCO was extremely supportive of good sportspersons and helped Yohannan a lot in achieving what he managed to achieve throughout his career.
Wonderful Days at TELCO
TELCO was home to a number of well known Athletes those days, including Suresh Babu and Reghunathan. The company even used to organize a Tata Sports Meet at Bombay (now Mumbai) as an event to promote Athletics sports in India.
Under the able guidance of Suresh Gujrati, the Athletics Coach at TELCO, Yohannan began honing his skills in Long Jump and Triple Jump. Although Gujrati was not a qualified Coach, he was very creative and innovative in his coaching. In the National Athletics Meet 1970, Yohannan won a Silver Medal in Long Jump. The very next year, he created a National Record in an Athletic Meet held at Patiala. He cleared a distance of 7.60 meters in the jump.
Further, he was selected to represent the nation at an International Athletic Meet to be held at Singapore. Yohannan won Gold Medals in both Long Jump and Triple Jump events at the Meet. Further, he grabbed one more Gold Medal in the Triple Jump event at the National Athletics Meet 1972. After this he created one more National Record in Long Jump covering a distance of 7.78 meters in the year 1973.
The Best Performance
But the best out of Yohannan had yet to be delivered. At the Tehran Asian Games 1974, he created a history of sorts by covering a surprising distance of 8.07 meters in the Long Jump event. This performance by him was considered to be something equal to Milkha Singh’s legendary performance in 400m race at the Rome Olympics. Yohannan’s jump created a new Asian record, and a new National record too that took almost 30 years to be broken.
In the year 1975, he was invited to participate at a series of Athletic Meets to be held at Tokyo, Hiroshima and Kobe in Japan. Yohannan grabbed Gold Medals in his events during the trip. The last Athletic Meet attended by him was the Montreal Olympic Games 1976.
Tragic End of Career
Yohannan met with a tragedy in the year 1978, which virtually forced him to retire as an Athlete. He went through a serious injury while practicing at National Camp held at Patiala. Not being able to receive proper medical facilities in time, his leg got badly swollen and ultimately the damage went beyond repair, leaving him decide to end his Athletic career.
Awards & Honors
As an honor to his commendable performance as an Athlete and the laurels he brought home with his consistent and determined efforts made at various International Athletics Meets throughout his career, T.C. Yohannan was bestowed upon the Arjuna Award in the year 1974 by the Government of India. The Government of Kerala also honored him with a merit award, while his employers, TELCO conferred upon him the TelcoVeer award.
- Set a new Asian Games record for long jump in the 1974 Teheran Asian Games.
- Won gold medals in various competitions at Tokyo, Hiroshima, Kobe.