KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 9 : It may have been 27 years ago, but the memory of Malaysia’s triumphant Thomas Cup campaign in 1992 is forever etched in her heart, to the point tears well up whenever she recalls that sweet moment.
For Tun Dr Siti Hasmah, that historic win is one for the ages, and on a personal note, a nostalgic trip down memory lane with the prestigious championship winning national squad.
Footage from Malaysia’s dramatic final against badminton powerhouse and regional rivals Indonesia played at Stadium Negara on May 16, 1992 shows a nervy Dr Siti Hasmah, the wife of Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad who was then in his first stint as Prime Minister, in the stands.
At that pivotal moment when second doubles pair Cheah Soon Kit-Soo Beng Kiang were about to serve for championship point, the nation’s No 1 sports fan, dressed in her lucky red floral baju kurung, was seen lifting her hands in prayer.
Soon Kit and Beng Kiang went on to secure that priceless rubber set point, sending the whole nation in into raptures as Malaysia clinched their first Thomas Cup victory in 25 years, a feat not repeated since.
Today, those memories were relived again in a reunion of sorts at the launch of the Tun Dr Siti Hasmah Badminton Champion programme, where Dr Siti Hasmah, who was like a mother to the squad then, was seen tearing up when surrounded by several members of the title-winning squad, all of them now national sporting legends in their own right.
“When Rashid (Sidek) invited me to this event today, I was tearing up just like I am now. To see all of you, my friends and champions, all of you have greyed, but appear healthy and energetic.
“My role of being a patron of badminton at the time was to be a mother to all of them and the main things I wanted is to ensure when I was there that they played together as a team.
“And that is the hardest thing that a mother can do, to make the family one team especially in sports and we should be proud of that in 1992 the young ones stepped up. I will never forget that,” Dr Siti Hasmah said in her speech at the launch of the programme, a brainchild of the Sports Affairs Badminton Club to honour the premier’s wife and her role all those years in the game.
Those who played in the final were singles players, Rashid Sidek, Foo Kok Keong and Kwan Yoke Meng and doubles pair Razif Sidek-Jalani Sidek and Soon Kit-Beng Kiang. Rahman Sidek and Wong Ewe Mun made up the rest of the squad.
The Badminton Champion programme is a platform that will reunite the badminton legends to scout, train and develop the talents of 96 ‘future badminton champions’.
At the same event, Dr Siti Hasmah was still in her jovial, motherly self as 27-years ago, and even had time for some ‘gossip’ when she revealed what transpired during that tensed final doubles game.
“I want to gossip a bit… about the (Thomas Cup) situation then. I had already known that they (Soon Kit-Beng Kiang) were not seeing eye to eye. I went to Soon Kit and told him that they was no other better partner for him than Beng Kiang.
“And then after that, I told Beng Kiang the same thing. And then they went on court and clinched the winning point!,” she said.
The legends involved in the programme led by Rashid are made up of former Thomas Cup and Olympics players including Kok Keong, Soon Kit, Rahman, Ong Ewe Hock, Roslin Hashim, Zakry Latif, Koo Kien Keat and Woon Khe Wei.
They will form eight teams comprising 12 players to be identified from a nationwide road show beginning this month with the finals being held in December.