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Sunday January 20, 2013
MALAYSIAN OPEN BADMINTON CHAMPIONSHIPSPUTRA STADIUM, BUKIT JALIL (Jan 15-20)
IT is fun being a badminton umpire. Just ask the sweet-smiling Wong Mei Peng (pic) or fondly known as Madam Wong.
Yesterday, the 58-year-old Mei Peng, who has been a prominent Malaysian woman umpire in the international scene for more than two decades, was awarded the Badminton World Federation (BWF) Meritorious Award for her contribution to badminton as a chair umpire.
Although being on the “hot seat” sometimes draws flak from players and coaches, Mei Peng said she loved her job in upholding fairness on the badminton court.
The headmistress of Methodist Primary School (ACS) in Seremban, remembers one particular incident when China’s head coach Li Yongbo was fuming mad at her.
“It was the 2010 Asian Games and I was the umpire in the match involving Lin Dan and Park Sung-hwan. The shuttle touched the line but the linesman said it was out. I overruled the decision but Yongbo was not happy at all,” said Mei Peng.
”He kept shouting at me but I stuck to my decision. It was my last major assignment. But there have been so many other good memories,” recalled Mei Peng, who started with a Grade 1 coaching certification in 1992.
“In this line of duty, one needs to be disciplined and make decisions without fear or favour. And it is important to have good communication with the players.
“I do not have a favourite player but I like Taiwanese Chen Hung-ling for his calm demeanour even if he is unhappy with our decision. Then, there is Wong Choong Hann’s (former Malaysian international) remarkable attitude on court.”
Despite retiring as BWF umpire in December, 2010, the secretary of the National Union of the Teaching Profession (NUTP), has not stopped encouraging others to venture into umpiring. In fact, she on her own accord, had been grooming others to become one and her “students” is already officiating local tournaments.
“I really miss umpiring but locally, I am still active. I am sad that the number of Malaysian international umpires have been dwindling. We are only left with three BWF umpires. We used to have big numbers in the past. I hope more will qualify as BWF umpires. Trust me, it is enjoyable,” added Mei Peng, who knows the rules and regulations of badminton by heart.
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