No gold, but with goals, Fandi deserves honour

No gold, but with goals, Fandi deserves honour
Ahmad is contributing further to Singapore sports as the coach of the LionsXII.

I have watched badminton legend Wong Peng Soon in action a dozen or so times.

During the 1955 Thomas Cup at the Singapore Badminton Association Hall at Guillemard Road, the stroke maestro and courtcraft wizard showed me why he was a world champion.

Four All-England titles and the demolition of the dynamic Danes (including the great Finn Kobbero) and the rest of the world's shuttlers in the '50s bore testimony to his global greatness.

He did not play in the region's biggest multi-sport event which kicked off in 1959 in Bangkok.

But, after his glorious service to the country, Wong, who died in 1996, would easily qualify to be in any elite field of torchbearers, or even as the primary figure to light the cauldron, for any South-east Asia (SEA) Games in Singapore.

I have seen weightlifter Tan Howe Liang (left) perform - later coach - and can fathom why he was head and shoulders above everyone else, except a Russian behemoth at the 1960 Olympics in Rome.

I enjoyed watching sprinter C Kunalan's (cauldron lighter in 1973, right) burst of speed, especially his high knee-lifts and turbo-thrusts, as he gobbled up the metres on the cinder, bitumen, tartan and mondo tracks in Singapore and the region.

Our original "Golden Girl" Patricia Chan was the reason for my first sports byline way back in November 1969, as she made waves at the Chinese Swimming Club under the watchful eyes of her dad and super coach Dr Chan Ah Kow.

Pat, as she is popularly known, was preparing for the 1969 South-east Asian Peninsular (SEAP) Games in Rangoon, and eventually amassed a whopping 39 gold medals in the biennial event.

I was overwhelmed with euphoria as I wrote the story for The Straits Times when the awesome Ang Peng Siong (left) made global headlines with his world-best swim for the 50 metres freestyle in Indianapolis in 1982.

Two years later, I immersed myself in his ecstatic swim at the Los Angeles Olympics, where he won the 100m freestyle 'B' final.

I didn't mind lugging a suitcase of swimming attire for water-wonder Joscelin Yeo when she was studying and swimming in Melbourne in the early '90s, for I considered it "national service". Our swimming pride went on to win a record 40 SEA Games gold medals.

Multiple-medalled bowler Grace Young (cauldron lighter in 1993) is a close friend and sailor Benedict Tan (right), the 1994 Asian Games champion, is a buddy, both of whom I have enjoyed waxing lyrical about.

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