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Tuesday September 13, 2011

Malaysia loses two of its most illustrious athletes

PETALING JAYA: Malaysia, and in particular Negri Sembilan, have lost two of its most illustrious sportsmen – Peter van Huizen, 79, and M. Joseph, 77.

Van Huizen died of lung infection at 8am yesterday while Joseph passed away after suffering a heart attack at 7.40pm on Sunday. They both died at a hospital in Seremban.

Both were former Olympians and double internationals – having represented the national team in hockey and football in the late 50s and early 60s.

In fact, they were team-mates in the national hockey team that played in the Tokyo Asian Games in 1958.

Peter’s family members are the who’s who of Malaysian hockey and are well known in Seremban for their untiring work in helping develop children in the sport.

Sorely missed: Peter van Huizen (left) and M. Joseph.

Among them are his brother Lawrence and nephew Stephen, who are both former internationals and coaches of the national team.

Joseph, meanwhile, was also a member of the football team that played in the first Merdeka tournament, which Malaysia (then Malaya) won in 1958. His family said they still have the Rolex watch given to the winning players by the country’s first Prime Minster Tunku Abdul Rahman.

Joseph was also an accomplished football coach at state and club levels and had also been involved in children’s development programmes. He was also a stringer with The Star newspaper in the late 70s.

The passing away of the two sports veterans came as a shock to the sporting fraternity. And many were full of praise for the duo’s selfless attitude and sacrifices to the nation.

Asian Hockey Federation (AHF) secretary Tan Sri P. Alagendra, who was a team-mate of the duo, said the two former players “come from an era of great sporting heroes”.

“They were exemplary sportsmen and loved the game so much that they did not retire from it fully. I know them well enough to say that they had brought nothing but glory to their family, club, state and country. It is a great loss to sports and Negri, which has over the years produced many dedicated sportsmen of distinction,” he said.

Their funerals will be held tomorrow at the Church of Visitation in Jalan Yam Tuan, Seremban. Joseph’s will be at 10am and Peter’s at 2.30pm.

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