The Passing of a Malaysian Badminton Icon


August 15, 2012

BREAKING NEWS: The Passing of a Malaysian Badminton Icon–Dato’ Punch Gunalan

Mr. Hamid Ahmad and Mr. Qadeer Ahmad of Car & Co, the well known Malaysian sporting goods company, and I have just returned from Section 12, Petaling Jaya where we paid our last respects to the Late Dato’ Punch Gunalan, All England Champion and Thomas Cupper, who passed on this morning of serious illness.  He was my colleague in Sime Darby, where he headed Sime’s Sports  Division.

Punch was a talented right-hander who spent what might have been some of the best years of his playing career competing only sporadically as a student in England. Punch did not represent Malaysia in Thomas Cup  until the 1970 series in Kuala Lumpur at the comparatively late “rookie” age of 26.  Malaysia relinquished its title to Indonesia in the final, 2–7, but with Ng Boon Bee as partner he won one of the two points.

In 1971 he and Boon Bee were the leading men’s doubles team in the world, winning the prestigious All England title, as well as the Danish, Canadian, and U.S. Open titles.

Though perhaps less consistent in singles than he was in doubles, Punch was capable of playing it at the highest level. He reached the All-England singles final in 1974, losing in three close games to Rudy Hartono of Indonesia.

He won singles at the quadrennial Asian Games in 1970 and at Commonwealth Games  in 1974.  Since his retirement from competitive badminton, he has served as coach of the Malaysian team and as an official in the Malaysian Badminton Association and the Badminton World Federation.

Despite his outstanding achievements in world class badminton, he remained down to earth, humble. and focused in all his undertakings. He will be sadly missed by his family, friends and fans. I hope the Malaysian Government and the National Sports Council will recognise his contributions to the nation, and find ways to assist his family.–Din Merican

13 thoughts on “The Passing of a Malaysian Badminton Icon

  1. One of the best King George V School, Seremban ever produced! You were our hero, Punch and your name shall always be at the notice board in the School hall as School Head Prefect! RIP fellow Old Georgian!

  2. I remember, Gunalan, possessed the best back hand smash which I haven’t seen in any other Malaysian badminton player.

  3. In the next 10 years we will see the torch being passed to a new generation of Malaysians. This is only the beginning.

    There is no god but God – and the Lord is His Shepherd.

    Psalm 23

    A psalm of David.

    1 The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
    2 He makes me lie down in green pastures,
    he leads me beside quiet waters,
    3 he refreshes my soul.
    He guides me along the right paths
    for his name’s sake.
    4 Even though I walk
    through the darkest valley,[a]
    I will fear no evil,
    for you are with me;
    your rod and your staff,
    they comfort me.

    5 You prepare a table before me
    in the presence of my enemies.
    You anoint my head with oil;
    my cup overflows.
    6 Surely your goodness and love will follow me
    all the days of my life,
    and I will dwell in the house of the Lord
    forever.

  4. I am here. Heard about his death while in Penang on an errand. Punch was from our generation as his prominence in badminton took place when we were growing up. So it is easy to identify ourselves with the man and some from his era like Boon Bee, Tan Aik Kuang, Tan Aik Mong, Tan Yee Kan, Phua etc. They were the badminton greats before the coming of the Sidek brothers. RIP, bro.

  5. Sorry, been away… and just heard the sad news of the passing of a great Malaysian sportsman.

    I belong to the generation when Wong Peng Soon, Ong Poh Lim, Ooi Teck Hock and others ruled the badminton world… and Punch easily fitted this list of greats.

    I recall a game in which Wong Peng Soon was playing the number one Dane, Finn Koberro . When Peng Soon lost the first set there was a shocked pin-drop silence at the Kg. Attap Hall. Our hero then took the second set without allowing his opponent to win a single point – a remarkable feat at that level… before going on to take the match. Such was the class of those greats.

    Rest in Peace Punch Gunalan.

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