11-12-2008, 02:13 AM #18
11-16-2008, 02:24 AM #19
11-16-2008, 09:22 PM #20
11-19-2008, 10:15 PM #21
Coincidental meeting with Wong Shoon Keat
I went to the Cheers Singles Age-Group Tournament at Yio Chu Kang Sports Hall last evening to find out whether Singapore has any badminton talent in the U15 for both boys and girls. After an hour, I was disappointed that there was none that caught my eye.
But my time there was not entirely wasted as I spotted Wong Shoon Keat who sat on the bench a few rows in front. I approached and sat beside him.
Shoon Keat remains Singapore's only SEA Games MS badminton gold medal winner when he beat Icuk Sugiarto (Tommy Sugiarto's father) in the 1983 finals. Icuk was reported to be suffering from "high fever". Kendrick Lee almost became the second Singaporean to strike SEA Games gold when he lost to Taufik Hidayat in the final in Korat, Thailand, last year.
But Shoon Keat's feat was not without hard work and preparation. A professional coach from China, with the surname Fu, was recruited to polish up the Singapore national players who had the technical skills but were not previously exposed to the physical training meted out to them. The weight training and energy-stamina sapping exercises very soon gave Shoon Keat and his teammates a great deal of pain and muscle aches. There was no physiotherapist, no masseur to ease their tired muscles but yet SK continued to endure for at least two months before he faced his opponents in the 1983 SEA Games competition. Obviously this relatively short coaching stint must have helped him to capture the title, a historic win which has not been emulated yet. And that was 25 years ago!
Shoon Keat was 25 years old then at his prime which should place him at about 50 today. He started late in the game and was only able to achieve success at a relatively late age of around 25. His uncle Wong Tew Ghee (?), a past national player apparently, was instrumental in keeping his interest in the game. At that time SK was helping out in his uncle's badminton equipment business. Wong Peng Soon was not SK's coach nor uncle but he did coach his uncle TG.
Shoon Keat's left eye ailment started about 5 years ago. Apparently it was caused by a 'malfunction' in his nerves behind his neck (an ageing problem?) and this seems to have afflicted some other badminton players as well. But SK is watching his health more carefully and has reduced his intake of food. He seems to be trimmer now.
I then left him to concentrate on his charges who are participating in this tourney.
Wong Shoon Keat was interviewed in Singapore's "Today", 14 December 2007, during the time the SEA Games 2007 was held in Korat, Thailand. He was asked for his views on his former trainee, Kendrick Lee, then 23, who earlier beat home favourite, Boonsak Ponsana and Sony Dwi Kuncoro and was to meet Taufik Hidayat in the SEA Games MS Final. (Kendrick eventually lost to Taufik and the chance to be the second Singaporean to win the SEA Games gold medal.) The link is below:
11-20-2008, 03:26 AM #22
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