Friday August 17, 2012
Name badminton stadium after Gunalan
IT was so shocking to see the headline “So long Punch” (The Star, Aug 17).
The passing of a great man. A man who has contributed so immensely to the world of badminton.
First as a player for the country; then as a coach, manager and also as a top official in the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) and the world body (WBF).
I don’t know him personally but I had the opportunity to meet him when I was studying in England in 1992.
I wrote to him before a badminton tournament pledging the full support of the Malaysian students in and around Birmingham. Using our network in Britain, we managed to get a huge crowd to support the Malaysia players.
What amazed me was that Datuk Punch Gunalan arranged free tickets for all of us for two days – semi-finals and finals.
That was the first time in the history of badminton in England where the crowd was rupturous!
The vocal fight between the Indonesian and Malaysian supporters attracted the attention of the British media.
They had never seen such a boisterous crowd before at a badminton match.
During the tournament we had the opportunity to share the gallery with the then Education Minister, Datuk Sulaiman Daud and Datin
Sri (now Tun) Dr Siti Hasmah,
the wife of former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad. Again, all this was made possible by Gunalan.
He responded to my letter promptly and I still keep his letter in my personal file along with the tournament ticket and pictures taken with him, Datuk Sulaiman, Dr Siti Hasmah and of course, the Malaysian players - Foo Kok Keong, Rashid Sidek, Razif Sidek, Jailani Sidek, Soo Beng Kiang and Cheah Soon Kit.
It will be difficult to find another Gunalan.
If the Sports Ministry could
name a stadium after Datuk Nicol David, I do not see why a badminton stadium cannot be named after
There were many great badminton players like Tan Aik Huang, Tan Aik Mong, Ng Boon Bee, Tan Yee Khan and others but Gunalan stands out for his colourful career as a badminton player right up to administration at all levels of the badminton heirarchy.
No one can deny that Gunalan played a major part in making badminton an Olympic event.
He was always a cheerful man, full of humility and will be missed by all Malaysians.
If re-naming a stadium would
be difficult, I suggest that a
badminton academy to groom future players be named after
May his legacy live on. May his soul rest in peace.