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 one with the ‘Legends’, here’s part two of our Malaysia-day special with highlights from athletes within the 70’s era:
11) Mani Jegathesan, Athletics
The 1960s is often referred to as the golden era of Malaysian athletics, and Jegathesan aka the ‘Flying Doctor of Malaysia’ was one of its brightest icons. At the 1966 Bangkok Asian Games, the sprinter collected three gold medals in the 100m,
200m and 4x100m Men’s Relay events. A year later, Jegathesan began his service as a houseman at the Kuala Lumpur General Hospital, and continued to serve the public health service for 32 years.
12) Abdul Ghani Minhat, Football
Known as ‘Raja Bola’, Ghani was a prolific two-footed striker and winger who donned Selangor FA and Negeri Sembilan FA jersey in the ‘50s and ‘60s. At the 1962 Asian Games in Jakarta, he scored all four goals against South Vietnam, helping the national team to clinch the bronze model. The year after, Ghani scored 106 goals in 15 matches – a national record.
13) Punch Gunalan, Badminton
The late singles and doubles star represented Malaysia in Thomas Cup, All-England, plus Commonwealth and Asian Games, bagging gold, silver and championships from the late 1960s to mid ‘70s. Punch (real name Panchacharan) retired in 1974, and later served with BAM and BWF, proving he’s got skills on and off the court. When we won the 1992 Thomas Cup, guess who was the national team’s head coach?
14) Sylvia Ng Eng Meow, Badminton
Inducted into the Olympic Council of Malaysia’s Hall of Fame in 2004 and honoured as Sportswoman of the Year twice in ’75 and ’78 – and rightfully so. At the 1978 Commonwealth Games, Sylvia made history by becoming the first Asian woman to win the badminton singles gold and the nation’s first female athlete ever to secure a Commonwealth gold.
15) Ishtiaq Mubarak, Athletics
Winning silver at the Asian Track & Field Championships in 1973 and 1975, as well as at the 1974 Asian Games, the late national hurdles star proved he’s a force to be reckoned with in the region. He competed in three consecutive Olympics; at his last (1976), Ishtiaq made it to the semi-finals, the second Malaysian to do so at the Games after the Flying Doctor in ’64.
16) Santokh Singh, Football
This burly defender played for Selangor FA from 1972 to 1985, and like his teammate SuperMokh, was extremely loyal to the state team. Also serving the national team, Santokh took part in the 1974 Asian Games in Tehran, where they took home a bronze. Together with defensive partner Soh Chin Aun, Santokh was a key player in clinching our spot in the 1980 Moscow Olympics; however, Malaysia boycotted the event.
17) Rajamani Mailvaganam, Athletics
Tapah-born Rajamani did not have an easy childhood but that didn’t stop her from achieving athletics glory. She bagged gold medals at SEAP and Asian Games, and became the nation’s first female Olympian. While training for the Mexican Olympics in 1968, the sprinter and others found shelter from the rain but it was struck by lightning. Fellow athlete P.N. Govindan lost his life, while Rajamani decided to hang up her spikes soon after.
18) Ng Joo Ngan, Cycling
When he was 19, Joo Ngan found himself representing Malaysia at the 1966 Bangkok Asian Games, alongside brother Joo Pong; quite a cool feat considering it all started with a race challenge four years earlier. The cyclist then secured a gold in the 200km road race category at the 1970 Asian Games, and in that same year, emerged the overall champ of the Tour of Jawa. Joo Ngan now runs a few bicycle shops in Klang Valley with son Edwin, also a former national cyclist.
19) Annie Goh Koon Gee, Basketball
Annie came from a family who shot hoops, so it was only natural for the Negeri Sembilan player to take up the game… and excelled at it. Aged 20, she made her first international appearance at the Asian Women’s Basketball Championships in 1965, and came out the 4th best scorer there. Three years later, she earned bragging rights as the top scorer and MVP. In 1970, the ‘Shooting Star’ led Malaysia to a 4th finish, and again took home the MVP award. Annie is the only Malaysian basketball player, male or female, to be included in an Asian All-stars line-up.
20) Soh Chin Aun, Football
Agile and strong, with a no-nonsense command of the field, the central defender’s partnership with Santokh Singh was the stuff of legends. Nicknamed the ‘Tauke’, he played the opening game against host Germany at the 1972 Munich Olympics, and was the captain of the qualifying team to the 1980 Moscow Olympics. He reportedly represented Malaysia in 252 games; the figure would make him the most capped player in football, ahead of Egyptian Ahmed Hassan’s 184. However, Chin Aun’s record is often disputed.
Click here for part one of this six-part story!
Sources: www.arkib.gov.my, en.wikipedia.org, www.malaysianbar.org, semuanyabola.com, www.thestar.com.my, www.themalaymailonline.com, stadium.my, vulcanpost.com, www.astroulagam.com.my, www.pressreader.com, ww1.utusan.com.my, joongan.blogspot.my, mypalmoil.blogspot.my, www.kosmo.com.my, www.fiba.basketball, thesportsmuseum.blogspot.my, https://www.fourfourtwo.co, rage.com.my