As the nation turns 60, we take a look at the sporting greats who made it to the headlines for their outstanding achievements, commitment and passion for the game. Following part 4 with athletes in the 90’s, here’s PART 5 with special focus on the greatest athletes from 2000-2001:
41) Ong Beng Hee, Squash
There must be something in the water as Penang’s produced several world-class players including Beng Hee, who reached a career peak of World No. 7 on the men’s world tour. He retired in 2015 after clinching 15 Professional Squash Association (PSA) titles, two Asian Games gold medals and a silver at the 2002 Commonwealth Games. The 37-year-old is now with the Qatar Squash Federation, as its director of coaching.
42) Mohd Amri Yahyah, Football
Playing for his boyhood club until 2013 before transferring to JDT and then Melaka United, ‘Wak Am’ helped the Red Giants collect one silverware after the other; in 2005, he was part of the team that won the treble of Premier League Malaysia, Malaysian FA Cup and Malaysia Cup. A versatile player, he participated in our successful 2010 AFF Suzuki Cup campaign, where we secured our first win in the history of the competition. The 36-year-old has also netted against Manchester United (two goals) and Barcelona. Amri recently went back to donning red and yellow after his Melaka United stint.
43) Josiah Ng, Track Cycling
Josiah’s passion for cycling runs deeper than monetary rewards; aged 14, he sold cookies to buy his first racing bike, and four years later, was ‘kicked out’ of his home by his parents because he decided to pursue competitive cycling. At the 2004 Olympics, he became the first Malaysian to enter the keirin finals – this was four months after a crash that sent him to the ICU! The three-time Olympian’s also won medals at Commonwealth Games, Asian Championships, Asian Games and SEA Games.
44) Mohd Qabil Ambak, Equestrian
Qabil, along with sister Quzandria, came out from their retirement to help our equestrian squad’s quest for home glory at the recent SEA Games, and they certainly didn’t disappoint; the siblings swept several gold medals in individual and team events. A SEA Games and Asian Games medallist, Qabil’s also won five SEA World Cup titles and competed at the prestigious FEI World Cup finals, the first Malaysian to do so.
45) Leong Mun Yee, Diving
In 1994, when the Jaya ‘98 programme was launched to prepare a diving team for the upcoming Commonwealth Games, Mun Yee made the swimmer-to-diver switch. It proved to be a good call; at the 2009 World Aquatics Championships, the 32-year-old Ipohrian and Pandelela Rinong won a bronze in the synchronised 10m platform category. Last month, the four-time Olympian picked up her 17th SEA Games gold, after participating in the biennial event for 20 years.
46) Roslinda Samsu, Athletics
Pole-vaulter Roslinda is a four-time SEA Games gold medallist, and between 2004 – 2010 has made it to the podium at Asian Games (silver), Asian Athletics Championships (gold and bronze), as well as the Asian Indoor Athletics Championships (gold and silver). Roslinda, now a teacher and coach, set a still-standing national record when she cleared 4.4m in Spain, in 2006.
47) Chai Fong Ying, Wushu
This Melakan athlete has captured three World Wushu Championships titles, winning her crown in taijijian (sword) in 2005, taijiquan (fist) in 2007 and taijijian in 2011. Hailing from a family of wushu exponents, calm and composed Fong Ying also won gold at the 2006 (Malaysia’s first in women’s event) and 2010 Asian Games. She quit in 2013, due to injuries and to complete her studies in UPM.
48) Puvaneswaran Ramasamy, Karate
Groomed by karate king P. Arivalagan himself, Puvaneswaran went on to become the first Asian Games karate competitor with five consecutive podium finish; his first was in 1994, when the martial arts discipline made its debut at the event. A three-time gold Asian Karate Championships medallist (1995, 2001, 2007), this karateka turned to coaching in 2010. After the Malaysian Karate Federation (MAKAF) terminated his contract last year, Puvaneswaran began training the Thai national team.
49) Sazali Samad, Bodybuilding
Competing since the mid ‘90s, Sazali’s career was an illustrious one before it was marred by a doping scandal in 2015; as a result, the retired police sergeant was banned for four years. Dubbed the ‘Malaysian Iron Man’, Sazali was crowned Mr Universe 10 times between 2000 and 2014, and took home the Mr Asia title nine times from 1996 to 2014. Hoping to make a comeback after his appeal to halve the suspension, the bodybuilder still lifts iron religiously to maintain his physique.
50) Kumar Subramaniam, Hockey
Kumar’s been collecting awards at international matches since 2007, but his latest accolade in June (best goalkeeper at the Men’s World Hockey League Semi-finals), was a bittersweet one after losing his second son in 2015 while he was in Belgium, about to compete in the same tournament. The 37-year-old has been representing Malaysia since 1999, and plays for the legendary Tenaga Nasional Berhad HC.
Sources: psaworldtour.com, www.thestar.com.my, en.wikipedia.org, www.goal.com, www.espnfc.com, stadium.my, cyclingtips.com, baikbike.com, www.qabilambak.com, 3qequestrian.com, www.thesundaily.my, www.fina.org, www.themalaymailonline.com, www.astroawani.com, ww1.utusan.com.my, www.asiaone.com, www.chinadaily.com, martialarts.com.my,ms.wikipedia.org, www.sinarharian.com.my, www.nst.com.my, www.mstar.com.my, www.stadiumastro.com