WHEN former shuttler Tan Jin Eong won the Thomas Cup in 1955, besides the nation celebrating his victory, one very proud person was his wife, Mary Ooi Siew Khim.
Ooi, 85, recalled that the tournament was held in Singapore, and she was given a flight ticket to watch her husband play in the finals.
“I used to get very nervous when he played his matches, but when he won the prestigious Thomas Cup, I was so happy and proud of him.
“He and many others players of his time did not expect any reward those days, because they were happy to serve and win for the country.
“I will miss him dearly,” she said at the funeral service for Jin Eong at the Canning Garden Methodist Church in Ipoh yesterday.
Jin Eong, 87, died of end stage renal failure on Sunday at the Kinta Medical Centre.
He was buried at the Christian cemetery in Tambun after the funeral service yesterday.
Jin Eong, also leaves behind three children, four grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
Ooi said she used to collect as many newspaper clippings of her husband’s achievements, and paste them into a scrapbook.
She said during his heydays, her husband used to regularly train from 7pm to 11pm, as he loved the game so much.
“I have so many of his trophies that I have packed nicely in boxes, as there are just too many of them to be displayed,” she added.
Jin Eong’s daughter June described her father as a warm, kind and friendly person, who would go all out to help others.
She said he was actively involved in the Rotary Club, Golf Club, church services and with the Day-Break Society until he suffered from renal failure two years ago.
“My two brothers and I learned how to play badminton in school but we never took the game seriously, as our father wanted us to focus on our education more,” she added.
Jin Eong was a doubles player, who came from a family with a strong affinity for sports.
From Ooi’s scrapbook, one of the pages was an attribution to Jin Eong by one Amirudin Mohammad, a researcher on the history of badminton in Malaysia, and titled “Once a Badminton Hero”.
He wrote that Jin Eong lived up to his family tradition, and equalled his father Tan Cheng Phor’s record by winning the Perak Triple Crown thrice in 1949, 1953 and 1955.
He had also won the Perak singles title six times in 1949, and from 1951 to 1955.
Amirudin had said that Jin Eong even battered his father’s record in the men’s doubles, smashing home the title five times in 1949, 1951, 1952, 1953 and 1955.
An all-rounder like his father, Jin Eong also won the mixed double thrice in 1949, 1953 and 1955
“He had partnered Julip Wong in 1949, and on the other two occasions, he teamed up with his sister Tan Eng Looi,” said Amirudin.
Amirudin had also said that Jin Eong first made the headlines in 1949, during his first overseas trip to India, where he won the All-India doubles with Abdullah Piruz.
Jin Eong’s dream of representing Malaya in the Thomas Cup came true in 1955.
“He was in the triumphant team that won against Denmark 8-1 in the challenge round played in Singapore on June 5, 1955,” he added.