Published: Wednesday August 15, 2012 MYT 8:56:00 AM
Updated: Wednesday August 15, 2012 MYT 9:44:14 AM
Punch Gunalan passes away
By RAJES PAUL
PETALING JAYA: Badminton legend Datuk Punch Gunalan passed away peacefully at 6am Wednesday. He was 68.
Gunalan had been battling with liver cancer for some time.
He had put Malaysia in the world's map in the 1970s with his immaculate performances in both the singles and doubles events as a distinguished player - representing the country in the Thomas Cup, All-England and Asian Games.
He had also served with the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) and Badminton World Federation (BWF), earning the respect of the world for his excellent administrative and communication skills and also for his warmth, kindness and passion for the sport.
Born in 1944 in Sepang, Selangor, Gunalan was one of the finest combination doubles and singles players for Malaysia.
He was inducted into the Olympic Council of Malaysia Hall of Fame in 2004.
A citation from the OCM website reads:
While Malaysians were overwhelmed in 1970 for losing the Thomas Cup, Datuk Punch Gunalan defeated Indonesian legends Injartno and Mirjati in his doubles title game with partner Ng Boon Bee to regain Malaysia back in the world of badminton. Despite losing 2-7 to Indonesia at the championship, Gunalan's victory is something that we can still be proud of.
Born on 22nd May 1944, Datuk Punch Gunalan had made a successful career in his life. Talented right-hander, he was indeed among the finest combination doubles Malaysia has ever produced. In 1971, Gunalan and Boon Bee again became the top men's doubles team in the world, winning the prestigious All England title, as well as the Canadian, Danish and U.S Open titles. His gifted right-hand amazed people with his exiting smash.
After his retirement, Gunalan continued his career by coaching the Malaysian team (Badminton Association of Malaysia) and later being appointed as the Deputy President of the International Badminton Federation. Under his reign, he vowed to make badminton as the best racquet sport in the world.
His continuous contributions and tremendous achievements in the badminton arena shall always be an inspiration for our young shuttlers.
1969 - Champion, U.S. Open for Men's Double title
1970 - His first contribution in Thomas Cup
1970 - 1972 - Champion, Danish Open for Men's Double title
1971 - Champion, U.S. Open for Men's Double title
1971 - Champion, All England for Men's Double title
1971 - Champion, Canadian Open for Men's double title
2005 - Became Deputy President of the International Badminton Federation
Datuk Punch also won the Asian Games Singles beating Mulyadi in 1970.
He was runner up to Rudy Hartono in the 1974 AE where he held match point at 14-7 in the 2nd set only to allow Rudy to catch up and won the 3rd for the latter historic 7th consecutive AE titles. When he lost, he didnt bend down and remiss about the miss chance but went over to the other side to lift Rudy Up in Congratulations.
"... a great drop from the champion Hartono and a very ambitious cross court drop from Gunalan, typical of the shots that this man (Gunalan) plays .. it wasn't successful on that occasion and that's why he endears himself so much to the crowd...TREMENDOUS ARTIST!"
That was how the commentator described PUNCH GUNALAN!
Punch loved Badminton, not only as a great player, but also as a great administrator - as our BWF President. He had lifted our sport to another level worldwide (not only for Malaysia).
It seems like it was only yesterday when I met up with him (in Melbourne, when we held the 2006 Commonwealth Games). I told him that soon his head won't have any hair left. But he laughed with me and said Badminton, not his hair, is more important for him.