PETALING JAYA: It's a family affair in Malaysian badminton.
Way back, there were the Tans – Aik Huang and Aik Mong and the Choongs – Eddy and David. Then came the Sideks – Misbun, Razif, Jalani, Rashid and Rahman. Now, the day of the Hashims has dawned. And the Latifs could be next.
Aik Huang was All-England men's singles champion in 1966. Eddy and David paired each other to win the All-England doubles from 1951 to 1953.
And the All-England is where both the Sideks and Hashims have made Malaysia proud. The Sideks ended a 16-year wait in the men's doubles when Razif and Jalani won in 1982. Before them, Tan Yee Khan and Ng Boon Bee had won in 1965 and 1966.
On Sunday, the 20-year-old Hafiz, the seventh of the 10 Hashim siblings, crowned his family's rule of Malaysian badminton with a great win – stunning top seed and defending champion Chen Hong of China 17-14, 15-10 to end Malaysia's 37-year-old wait for a men's singles title. And Hafiz had not even been seeded in the tournament.
His elder brother Roslin had come near. He made it into the semi-finals in 2001 but fell. To make up, he won the Swiss and Japan Opens title. He also reigned as the world number one for two weeks and ended Malaysia's 28-year-old wait for a singles crown in the SEA Games.
Mohamed, a year older than Hafiz, is currently a full-time player with the Nusa Mahsuri while the siblings' 13-year-old twin brothers Hafizi and Hafifi are already Under-12 school champions.
Like the Sideks, the Hashims have their father to thank for their success.
The 67-year-old Hashim, a former religious teacher, had collected used shuttles and made his own racquets from wood when he took up the sport.
“Then, a friend bought a racquet for me and I used to be his sparring partner. When I won the Kelantan Open in 1963, I also met and fell in love with my wife (Hapsah Hassan @Zawiyah) who was my mixed doubles partner. After that, I began to take the game very seriously,” said Hashim.
Hashim taught all his 10 children how to play badminton at a court behind his house at Kampung Sireh in Kota Baru. His five other children Mohd Rusdi (35), Raihan (32), Mohd Rizal (31), Mohd Rosman (29) and Rosmimi (25) however, had been more inclined to studies and career.
“Of them all, Hafiz is the only one who concentrated only on badminton and studies. My other sons and daughters, including Roslin, had other interests as well. Roslin was good in athletics and had won the 1,500m. But for Hafiz, his interest was solely on badminton,” he said.
Hashim started tutoring Hafiz on badminton when he was just 10 years' old. Two years later, Hafiz was already the best schoolboy in Kelantan. Three years ago, at the Penang Sukma, Hafiz was playing doubles with brother Mohamed. Now, he's All-England champion.
“This is just the beginning for me,” said Hafiz.
“I am looking forward to winning more titles. I have always admired the Sidek family and now, I hope to lead the Hashim family to keep Malaysia's flag flying high in the world of badminton,” said Hafiz.
But he has to be wary. Yet another family is silently waiting in the wings.
The Latifs could be next in line.
Seven of the nine children of Abdul Latif bin Salleh and Nor Aini binti Shamsudin are into badminton. Zakry is a national doubles player, while Nairul Suhadah and Mohamed Arif, both Under-12 national champions, are in the Bukit Jalil Sports Schools.
The others playing are the family's eldest Mohamed Najib, 21, Md Razif, Nairul Athirah and Nairul Nabilah.
Between them, they have brought the Negri Sembilan Under-12, Under14, Under-16 and Under-18 title to the family trophy cabinet.
And some of them could yet team up with a Sidek – national coach Misbun – to bring glory to Malaysia.