PETALING JAYA: Former international Tan Chee Tean (pic) headed for Austria just two weeks ago in a bid to resurrect his badminton career.
Sadly, it turned out to be the last journey of his life.
The Malaysian sports fraternity was shocked yesterday with the sudden passing of the 24-year-old Kedahan.
The doubles specialist was killed in a car crash in Brno after competing in the Czech Open.
When the incident took place, Chee Tean was said to be travelling to Austria with two other shuttlers, including Austrian Antoine Meinke, whom he had recently formed a partnership with for the mixed doubles.
In a statement released by the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM), Chee Tean died on the spot from the impact of the collision.
Chee Tean spent six years with the national team before leaving in February.
His tragic passing shocked the national badminton fraternity and former teammate Chong Yee Han was among those in disbelief upon receiving the news.
Yee Han forged a very close friendship with Chee Tean as they were both room-mates at the team hostel in Bukit Kiara ever since the first day they reported for the national team in 2012.
“I still find it hard to accept that he has left us,” said Yee Han, who’s also an independent singles shuttler.
“It was just on Thursday that we had a video call. He told me he was settling in well and pumped up to rebuild his career from scratch since relocating there two weeks ago.
“Little did I know that it was our last conversation. When I got the news from (Low) Juan Shen (former national doubles shuttler), I was devastated.
“We’re both really close. Even when I left the national team recently (in July), I had moved in to stay with him at his rented house.
“For six years we have been living and doing many things together, I’ll sure to miss him dearly.”
Yee Han said he was one of many friends that encouraged him to move to Europe.
“Chee Tean did contemplate for a while before making his move. In fact, he flew to Austria for the first time in July to check the place out. He intends to continue his study whilst playing and coaching,” revealed Yee Han.
“He asked me if this would be a good move? And I told him to give it a shot because if things don’t work out, he can always come back home. So, he returned to Austria just two weeks ago and it turned out to be the last goodbye.”
In his six years with the national team, Chee Tean finished runners-up twice – at the Bangladesh Open (with Tan Wee Gieen in men’s doubles) and the Thailand International Challenge (with Shevon Lai Jemie in mixed doubles) in 2015.
Before losing in the first round of the Czech Open, Chee Tean did well to reach the quarter-finals in his maiden outing with Meinke at the Polish International.
Datuk Seri Norza Zakaria is wearing two hats as the president of both OCM and BAM