There is nothing quite like the Thomas Cup for bringing Malaysians together.
FOR the past two days, the song Fikirkan Boleh has been on auto-repeat mode on my song playlist. Some might call the song cheesy or mock it, but for me it’s synonymous with one particular event in 1992.That night was the last time Malaysia won the Thomas Cup or the “badminton World Cup.” I can recall watching the final against Indonesia at home.
I remember that even my parents who were not sports fan were glued to the television that night. My whole family was, as was the whole nation.
That time, the whole nation watched as Rashid Sidek, Cheah Soon Kit- Soo beng Kiang and Foo Kok Keong fought gallantly to clinch the points that brought back the title after 25 long years.
The long wait ended at 12.37am on May 17 when Cheah and Soo won their match to send the nation into a frenzy.
It is 22 years since that victory happened and I can bet that the whole nation will be tuning in to their televisions sets later today.
Yes, Malaysia is playing Japan in the Thomas Cup final. Who could have ever predicted that?
Certainly not me! In fact, I felt there was not much excitement about the tournament until news that Japan defeated China in the semifinal was known.
The interest in this final is certainly peaking , given that many believe that this is Malaysia’s best chance to gain a victory.
So much so that chaos erupted when it was announced that RTM had to pay Astro RM4mil for viewing rights to air the final.
A deal was somehow struck although details are not known and RTM will now be showing the final live.
Of course, no one really made a fuss until Malaysia made the final.
But back to the game itself and one would be a fool to underestimate the Japanese who whipped favourites China 3-0 in their semifinal. In fact some think that the Japanese are the real favourites in the final that will be played at the Siri Fort Stadium in New Delhi.
I also remember Malaysia’s game against Japan in the Thomas Cup group stages in Kuala Lumpur in 2010. We were leading 2-0, but Japan stormed back to win the tie 3-2.
So, the win is certainly not in the bag.
The hopes of a nation rests on Datuk Lee Chong Wei, Tan Boon Heong- Hoo Tien How, Chong Wei Feng, Tan Wee Kiong- Goh V Shem and Liew Daren.
The team has done well so far, beating fellow contenders South Korea (3-2), Denmark (3-1) and Indonesia (3-0) along the way.
To me, the history of the Thomas Cup and Malaysia itself are intertwined. We have won the tournament five times, the first three as Malaya, in the run-up to Merdeka. In fact curiously even though the tournament is 65 years old, only Indonesia (with 12 wins), China (nine) and Malaysia have ever won it.
I must admit that I am hoping for an explosion of national joy later today. I would also like to see Chong Wei join the ranks of legends Wong Peng Soon, Eddy Choong and Tan Aik Huang as the only Malaysians to bag the All-England singles titles and the Thomas Cup
There is no reason why our team can’t go all the way now especially as the nation will be giving our full support.
It’s about time too. We don’t want to be reminiscing about 1992 forever.
> The views expressed are entirely the writer's own.