Friday, August 17, 2012

Punch Gunalan dies at 68

SMASH KING: Badminton legend succumbs to liver cancer

Datuk Punch Gunalan with his single gold medal from the 1974 Commonwealth Games. File pic

KUALA LUMPUR: MALAYSIAN badminton lost one of its favourite sons when Datuk Punch Gunalan died at a hospital in Subang Jaya yesterday. He was 68.
Gunalan, who succumbed to liver cancer, is survived by wife, Datin Vijeyakumari and son, Dr Roshan.
Born as Gunalan Panchacharan, he became well known as Punch Gunalan for his smashing game.
Gunalan was Malaysia's No. 1 shuttler in the 1970s and until today, remains the nation's last player to win the Asian Games singles gold in 1970. He also won the doubles gold with Ng Boon Bee.
In 1970, Gunalan-Boon Bee captured the Commonwealth Games gold in Edinburgh and went on to win the prestigious All England crown in 1971.
Gunalan captured the Commonwealth Games singles gold in 1974 and in the same year, finished runner-up to Indonesian legend Rudy Hartono in the All England.
Formerly a mechanical engineer with TNB, Gunalan later became a successful coach and a great administrator.
He was instrumental in Malaysia winning the coveted Thomas Cup in 1992. He played the role of chief coach and team manager to perfection in helping Malaysia regain the Thomas Cup after a lapse of 25 years.
Gunalan was also part of the 1970 and 1973 Thomas Cup squads, and as a coach, he guided a bunch of rookies, including (Datuk) James Selvaraj, to the final of the 1976 Thomas Cup.
Gunalan's contribution to badminton off the court is just as tremendous, not only on the local scene but also on a global level where he served the Badminton World Federation (then known as International Badminton Federation) for 21 years.
Gunalan, who was the Kuala Lumpur BA president, served as BAM vice-president, and in 2000 he was instrumental in identifying Datuk Seri Nadzmi Salleh as the successor to Datuk Seri Dr Fadzil Che Wan as BAM president.
Despite his heavy workload in Malaysia, Gunalan never slowed down on the international front. He was active as a BWF council member between 1987 and 1997 and later as the world body's vice-president (1997-2005).
Significantly, Gunalan was a prime mover in ensuring badminton remained in the Olympics and he was the brainchild behind the creation of the point-per-rally (21-point) scoring system as he wanted the sport to attract more sponsors and television coverage.
The funeral service will be held today at 2pm at No 9, Jalan 12/14B, Petaling Jaya. Cortege leaves for MBPJ Crematorium in Kampung Tunku at 3pm.

*Taken from NST Online

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