John Permal, St. Patrick’s golden boy of the track, passed away yesterday at 72.
The School is truly proud to have had him on its rolls of distinguished students as he had in his prime brought it many laurels and athletic fame by being the fastest runner our nation has ever produced. There has not been another sprinter of his caliber in School to date. From 1964 to 1974, John Permal was the undisputed fastest human in Pakistan. He first officially became Pakistan’s fastest man at the 1965 National Games in Lahore, where he actually finished second. He retained the 100m fastest-man-in-Pakistan title in Rawalpindi in 1967, at Dhaka in 1968, at Karachi in 1970, at Nawabshah in 1971, and again in Lahore for the last time in 1973. His best time came in 1969 at a Bonn (Germany) athletics meet, where he clocked 10.4 seconds for the 100 meters event.
The biggest triumph of his athletic career was the gold medal that he won for Sindh in the 400 metres relay at the National Games at Dacca in 1968.
At the pinnacle of his career, the international press considered him to be one of the most feared sprinters from this part of the world. He represented Pakistan with distinction at two Asian Games, both held at Bangkok, in 1966 and 1970, and the Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh in 1970. Permal also represented Pakistan at the Munich Olympics in 1972. Once when interviewed by Dawn (newspaper), Permal attributed his success on the track to the support of his school coach, the legendary Jacob Harris.
In June 2018 Permal was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and was given three weeks by his doctors, but, according to his son Anthony, being the fighter he was, he bravely battled it for over 9 months. He is mourned by his wife Josephine and his three children Anthony, Sue Ellen and Adrian.
John Permal’s funeral will be held tomorrow at 3.00 pm in St. Lawrence’s Church. His body will be brought to the church for viewing at 2.30 pm.
Farewell, Mr. Permal! Speed on to your Maker!