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Monday, July 18, 2005

Malaysia Lifts the Thomas Cup: The Story of '92 (Part 1)

Lee Chong Wei just won the Malaysian Open badminton last weekend. It seems that our local tournament is the only competition our local shuttlers can win, aside from one or two obscure European tournaments here and there.

Thereby justifying the ‘jaguh kampung’ tag. Unless if we meet an Indonesian player in the final. Then ‘jaguh kampung’ also don’t have.

Actually Lee Chong Wei is just the latest in the long line of local boys from our academies to play in the international scene. This line stretched back to the early 90’s, with players like the Saha brothers, Lo Ah Heng, Roslin & Hafiz Hashim, Wong Choon Hann. Sometimes the story sounds like a broken record, a bright talent wins one title (like the Singapore Open) but in the end never really reaching his full potential.

But why the early 90’s, you ask? Because in 1992, Malaysia, after 25 long, tiring years in the wilderness, finally won the coveted Thomas Cup. I will tell that stirring story of Malaysian courage and unity tomorrow, and the 2 tournaments in 1986 and 1989 leading up to that momentous victory. Tomorrow, I promise the story of that victory over the mighty Indonesian House of Badminton.

But today, let me tell of that brilliant team of ’92.

(The format of play was simple, there were 5 matches: three singles alternated with 2 doubles. The first team to win 3 matches wins. So you either win 3-0, 3-1 or if it’s a close one, 3-2.)

First singlesRashid Sidek. He was the most talented of the brothers, but yet somehow never eluded the ‘jaguh kampung’ tag. Rashid’s netplay was suspect, and his smash never possessed the killer instinct of the Indons, and his concentration was iffy at best. But as erratic as he was, on a good day, he could defeat anyone. And he was still by far, Malaysia’s best.

First doubles Razif & Jalani Sidek. In the All-England champions, Malaysia had a solid defence team. Their understanding seemed almost telepathic, but for all their prowess, the brothers could not smash. Their strength was always in long defence rallies where the impatient opponents made mistakes, but how would they fare against the feared jumping smash batteries?

Second singles - Foo Kok Keong. With the retirement of bad boy of badminton (eww…!) Misbun and Ong Beng Teong, the never-say-die Foo was promoted to second singles. He was never blessed with much talent, but he made up for it with an immense fighting spirit. Sometimes until the point of throwing up on court or suffering leg cramps. But Foo had a long career and in ’92, he was staring at his twilight years, but for one more shot at the silver cup…

Second doublesCheah Soon Kit & Soo Beng Kiang. Malaysia’s secret weapon. The pair had everything, solid defence, sharp smashes and exhilarating netplay. But one problem. It was obvious to everyone watching the young boys could not really get along (in fact Soon Kit never got along with ANY of his partners!).

Third singlesKwan Yoke Meng/Wong Tat Meng. Both were unspectacular players, but Malaysia hoped that the match could be settled by the doubles and Rashid, thereby not requiring the third singles to be played.

And so how did our boys square off against the likes of Ardy Wiranata, Alan Budi Kusuma, Eddy Hartono and Gunawan?

Tomorrow: That fateful night Malaysia finally lifted the Thomas Cup

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  • I still remember the banner that said something like - "THE GREAT WALL CRACKS!" displayed in the semi-final against China.

    Greatest sporting night in recent Malaysian history, I think...

    By Blogger sashi, at 7/18/2005 09:53:00 am  

  • m'sia needs more inspiring moments like 92 thomas cup. i was only a kid then, but it felt like the greatest achievement for m'sian. for once, we felt 'united'.

    By Blogger cccp, at 7/18/2005 10:09:00 am  

  • Looking forward to it.

    Brings back memories. *sigh* I was only 8 back then.

    By Blogger The Great Swifty, at 7/18/2005 11:22:00 am  

  • I admired Foo Kok Keong for his play till vomit then somemore continue to play.

    And I even queued up along the road to see the Thomas Cup being paraded! Orang kampung mah.

    By Blogger 5xmom, at 7/18/2005 12:02:00 pm  

  • Got somemore - That robotic Kwan Yoke Meng very chialat player. Wonder how he become a coach. Also there is another guy who appeared in just one or two games (around that era). The surname is Ong. Got a crush on him thim.... LOL!

    By Blogger 5xmom, at 7/18/2005 12:04:00 pm  

  • i remember it was a big thing. i was in form four then. wah syiok that time.... especially after we won lah....

    on another note, it's nice to see that banner of yours, the neophyte of the year award! was wondering when it was going to make an appearance.. hehehe...

    By Blogger mudslinger, at 7/18/2005 12:55:00 pm  

  • hahaha BEDminton .... my fav sport!!!

    By Blogger Wingz, at 7/18/2005 01:04:00 pm  

  • sashi - yeah, so sad about how we never managed to hold on to the cup.

    cccp - yeah, after that everybody was badminton-crazy on the streets...

    eliar - yep, i'll post it tomorrow...

    5xmom - lucky you got to see the cup! Ong Ewe Hock?

    mudslinger - i know how old you are!

    wingz - 'BEDdminton'? that one also got Thomas Cup aa? :P

    By Blogger Simon, at 7/18/2005 02:28:00 pm  

  • mudslinger - glad u like the banner! took me half and hour...

    By Blogger Simon, at 7/18/2005 02:30:00 pm  

  • Choy...definitely not Ong Ewe Hock. Uwek..

    By Blogger 5xmom, at 7/18/2005 07:06:00 pm  

  • BAM was humiliated by the low budget assigned this year, maybe so there is a need for players to work harder... sometimes, it doesn't matter if they can't win the title, as long as they have done their best! Keep it on men!

    By Blogger keng 坑, at 7/18/2005 08:43:00 pm  

  • When will we have the feeling again?
    Feeling so proud with the glory.
    even i'm a kid that time, i can feel it.
    everyone is so proud that time.
    that time dun even have the MALAYSIA BOLEH thingy.

    Where is the fighting spirit?

    KIASU spirit is not bad for archieve success.

    By Blogger MengZ, at 7/18/2005 11:14:00 pm  

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