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.
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