IT was indeed a special occasion for players of the victorious 1967 Thomas Cup when they gathered to celebrate the good old times.
Besides celebrating the 80th birthday of their team captain and badminton legend, Datuk Teh Kew San, it was also a night to relive precious memories.
Among those who attended the grand bash at the Penang Club in Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah in George Town, Penang, were Datuk Yew Cheng How, 72, Datuk Ng Boon Bee, 77, Datuk Tan Yee Khan, 74, Datuk Billy Ng, 74, and Tan Aik Huang, 69.
The distinguised guests included Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) president Tan Sri Tengku Mahaleel Tengku Ariff, former players Tan Aik Mong, Rosalind Singha Ang and Sylvia Tan, Datin Maggie Choong (wife of the late Datuk Eddy Choong), Bukit Bendera MP Zairil Khir Johari (whose father was BAM president in 1967) and The Star’s senior regional manager (operations) David Yeoh.
Guests were also shown a video clip of the nation’s badminton golden era before family and friends presented Teh with a birthday song.
“I'm very happy that all my teammates are able to be here with me tonight,” said Teh after cutting the birthday cake which was decorated to look like a badminton court.
“During my time, we had to train on our own.
“We played to win for our country and our pride, and money was never the reason for our participation.
“I hope the younger generation will seize the opportunity and make our country proud as I see a future in the sport,” he added.
Tengku Mahaleel also praised the 1967 team during his speech, saying that it was one of the greatest teams ever produced in the history of Malaysian badminton.
Born in 1934, Teh was the captain of Malaysia's Thomas Cup team for three times and won a string of international and local titles from the late 50s to the mid-60s.
Besides spearheading Malaysia to glory in 1967, Teh also represented the country in the Thomas Cup in 1958, 1961, 1964 and 1967.
During a press conference after the recent dinner, Tengku Mahaleel said the BAM was still waiting for the court's decision on the doping case of national shuttler Datuk Lee Chong Wei.
“We’ve hired five-time world champion Lin Dan’s junior coach from China to help us find new talents for the national squad.
“We hope to find a successor in the next three years,” he said.
Tengku Mahaleel added that there was a need to search for talents as there were about 1,800 active players in the country including 34 national players.
In China, there were about 3,800 players available for selection for the national squad, he said.