Over the years, Malaysia has seen some very talented athletes, many of whom have competed in the Olympics to represent their country. These are some of the greatest Malaysian athletes of all time, so if you are a native of Malaysia and you want to participate professionally in sports, then you should look up to these legends.
Malaysian King Walker Ramasamy Subramaniam
At a late age, Subra took up athletics, who had been trained on his own as a schoolboy athlete in the 60s as an Olympian. Subra was a keen sportsman and played football, but he was obsessed with walking. He saw his 14-year walking career take off with wins in almost all walking competitions with the help of his bosses, such as the Malay Mail Major Walk, State Meetings and a walking circuit organised by a private company, Wings, before participating in his first international competition at the 1977 Sea Games in Kuala Lumpur, where he won the 10km gold and 20km silver medals.
Tan Sri Dr. Mani Jegathesan
The legendary sprinter Tan Sri Dr Mani Jegathesan 76, was a trailblazer on the track & field in the 1960’s who became an accomplished researcher and scientist in medical microbiology. Famously known as The Flying Doctor, he represented Malaysia at three Olympic Games, notably in 1960 (Rome), 1964 (Tokyo) and 1968 (Mexico City). He was known as the fastest man in Asia and went on to compete in the 1968 Games in Mexico City, where he made it again to the semi-finals of the 200-meter competition, and set the Malaysian record of 20.92 seconds, which still stands to date.
Datuk Punch Gunalan
With his immaculate results in the singles and doubles events, the badminton legend Gunalan represents the nation in the Thomas Cup, All-England and Asian Games – he put Malaysia on the world map in the 1970s. He was also associated with the Malaysian Badminton Association (BAM) and the World Badminton Federation (BWF), gaining the world’s admiration for his exceptional managerial and leadership abilities, as well as his love, humility and enthusiasm for the sport. The accomplishments and immense successes of Late Gunalan in the badminton arena will always be an inspiration for our young shuttlers.
Datuk M. Chandran
In the early of 70’s, when the Southeast Asian country qualified for the 1972 Munich Olympics, M. Chandran was an essential part of Malaysia’s national team. He established himself as a steep, rugged tackling center-back in both the Selangor and Malaysia teams. The crowning glory was when Malaysia was captained by a group that included the Republic of Korea, Japan, Chinese Taipei and the Philippines to qualify for the 1972 Munich Olympics. In 1975, Chandran retired from the football team, making the transition to coach as he led both Selangor, with whom he won the Malaysia Cup and other awards, and the 1988 Malaysian national team.
Tan Sri Dato Seri K. Thanabalasingam
The first Malaysian commander of the Royal Malaysian Navy was Rear Admiral (Rtd) Tan Sri Dato ‘Seri K. Thanabalasingam. The Royal Malaysian Navy was eventually converted from a coastal navy (brown water force) to an ocean navy under Thanabalasingam and Tunku Abdul Rahman’s foresight (blue water navy). He took all of his moves, including the distinction of being the oldest living and longest-serving former navy chief of Malaysia.
Shanti remains a dominant force amongst women sprinters who competed for Malaysia at the Asian Games in 1993. She was once known as the fastest woman in Southeast Asia after striking a gold medal in the 100m and 200m in the 1977 Jakarta Sea Games. At the Sea Games, she claimed a triple gold medal in the 100m, 200m, along with a silver medal for the 4×100 relay. To date she still holds the Malaysian National record for the 100m (11.5s) and 200m (23.4s) track. She was also declared as the last Malaysian woman to win the 100m and 200m at the Southeast Asian Games in 1997.
Datuk Rasammah Bhupalan
Rasammah Bhupalan, 86, was one of the first women fighters to fight for Malaya’s independence. She joined the Indian National Army’s Rani of Jhansi regiment and served in Burma at the tender age of 16 during World War II. She began her teaching career at the Methodist Girls School after graduating from the University of Malaya and it was in that school that she co-founded The Federation of Malaya Women Teachers Union (WTU) in 1960.
Thanabalan Nadarajah or better known as N. Thanabalan was the legend of national football and Selangor. When he was 17 years old at the 1960 Asian Youth championship, he first led the nation and then transferred from 1963 to 1971 to the senior team. He won 107 caps playing for the nation and was a nippy and professional scorer who put terror in the heart of opponents. Stanley Gabrielle, Chow Chee Keong, Wong Choon Wah, Abdullah Nordin, Wong Fook Yong, Sardar Khan, Ibrahim Mydin, Namat Abdullah, Shaharuddin Abdullah and M. played alongside legends of that era.
Datuk M. Rajamani
Rajamani, Malaysia’s first female Olympian was the seven-time Seap Games gold medalist, and an Asian Games gold medalist. The former athletic track queen was the first Malaysian women athlete to set records for four events in the 200m, 400m, 800m and 4x100m. Those who knew Rajamani as the pride of Malaysia during her golden era might realise the importance of the role of her father in her success.
Malaysia’s former cycling ace, Murugayan Kumaresan, represented the country at two consecutive Olympics, beginning in 1988 (Seoul, South Korea) and at the Barcelona Olympics in 1992. He won a total of 21 medals, including track and open road cycling (nine gold medals and 12 others). The legend also qualified for the Olympic Games twice and became the first Malaysian in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics to compete in the finals.
Indeed, all of them were a special group of Malaysian athletes, legends the country can be thankful for. Yet, till date, none of the current upcoming athlete generation would be able to fully live up to the expectations these heroes have set.
Sad, but that’s the truth, and for the golden and wonderful memories, we can only thank these heroes for making their community proud and we will always cherish them as Malaysia’s unsung heroes!