Tuesday January 29, 2013
Badminton icon Eddy Choong was a great inventor of shots
By RAJES PAUL
KUALA LUMPUR: He stood at five feet four inches but to the badminton world, Datuk Eddy Choong was the giant of his era.
Yesterday, the 82-year-old Eddy (born on May 29, 1930) passed away in a private hospital at Penang after bleeding in the stomach – to leave all Malaysians mourning over the death of another great badminton icon.
Two other greats – Eddy’s talented brother David and the legendary Datuk Punch Gunalan – also passed on due to illness in 2011 and 2012 respectively. All of them left behind a rich badminton legacy for the newer generation to embrace.
Eddy was the country’s star of the All-England tournament. He had won it seven times – four singles crowns in 1953, 1954, 1956 and 1957 – and three doubles titles with David in 1951, 1952 and 1953.
In fact, he is the only Malaysian player to win both the singles and doubles titles in the same year of the oldest tournament – in 1953. He was also a member of the 1955 Thomas Cup-winning team.
And the player – dubbed as the Pocket Rocket, Mighty Midget, Mighty Atom and Jumping Jack to name a few – because of his small stature but explosive moves on court – ruled the world of badminton during the 1950s-1960s, winning numerous international titles.
After his playing days, Eddy ventured into coaching and was known as a great inventor of badminton shots.
Former Thomas Cup champion and two-time All England winner Datuk Tan Yee Khan recalled the times when he stayed in Eddy’s house for three months hoping to learn the tricks of the trade from his “sifu”.
“I was 17 years old when I went to stay with him in Penang. I respected him because he was smart and had great knowledge of the game. And he was willing to teach all he knew about the game. I remember all those long hours of advice and also the painful and gruelling hill training,” said Yee Khan.
“As a player, he had invented a lot of badminton shots like the attacking lob. He would send the serve high enough to give him time to run back and take position against his opponent.
“I remember this one funny incident too. His opponents especially the English players were wary of him and some of them wanted to know whether Eddy had springs hidden in his shoes because he could jump so high.
“When I became a national coach, I did not forget his words of wisdom. I implemented some of his moves and techniques. He had been a mentor and a friend. He will be deeply missed,” added the 73-year-old Yee Khan.
The friendly and charming Eddy was also well-known among the international fraternity. One of the awards given by the World Badminton Federation (BWF) for their promising players had been named after him – Eddy Choong Player of the Year award.
BWF’s chief operating officer Thomas Lund said Eddy knew the whole history of badminton.
“I consider him the most loyal and faithful badminton player, coach and fan.
“His knowledge of the game was immense. He was also a dear friend of mine,” said Lund.
Lund added that the All-England had a special place in Eddy’s heart.
“During my playing days, I saw him in every All-England. When I joined the BWF, he was also a regular spectator there.
“He always had badminton on his mind. He loved the game.”
Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) secretary Ng Chin Chai said: “We are very sad over his passing. He has contributed so much to the game and is truly an icon.
“At one stage, he was the BAM’s head coach of the women’s team. He was also the deputy president of the Penang BA for many years.
“For his wealth of knowledge, BAM had also appointed him to lead the think-tank committee. He contributed his ideas to help rejuvenate the sport. Most of our BAM officials will be heading to Penang to pay our last respects.”