No matter if you’re a “sporty” person or not, everyone would surely have a favourite athlete right? It could be Christiano Ronaldo, Serena Williams or Michael Phelps! What is it about these athletes that make them so admirable? It’s probably the fact that they’re seemingly ordinary people who perform almost superhuman tasks.
Remember how Usain Bolt broke the 100m World Record and the whole world was amazed by this amazing feat? Yet, Bolt himself did this with almost a casual smile on his face as if it was nothing but a mere jog in the park.
Speaking of athletes, Malaysia has some amazing ones like Datuk Lee Chong Wei and Datuk Nicol Ann David who’ve made the nation proud countless times. But how many of us know athletes from the 80s or 90s who shattered records but are virtually unknown nowadays? Well, no worries! We’ve come to enlighten you about all those underrated and underappreciated athletes who definitely deserve your attention.
1. Nur Herman Majid
Nur Herman Majid is a retired Malaysian sprinter who specialized in the sprint hurdles. He represented the country at the 1992 Spain Olympics. Herman Majid held a national record in the 110 metres hurdles from the 1994 Asean Games for 23 years before Rayzam Shah Wan Sofian broke it in 2017 by a time of 0.06 seconds.
2. Wong Tee Kue
This angry-looking young man over here is Mr Wong Tee Kue, five-time SEA Games hammer throw champion. Fondly known as the Hammer King of Sarikei, he won eight SEA Games medals, including 5 golds. He was also a national record holder for 12 long years. Fun fact, Wong Tee Kue’s niece, Grace Wong, is also a gold-medal-winning national athlete who emerged victorious in the 2017 SEA Games.
Remind me to NEVER play catch with this family!
3. Rabia Abdul Salam
At the tender age of 20, this Penang girl won the gold medal for Malaysia in the 1993 SEA Games for the 4x400m event in Singapore together with Josephine Mary, R. Shanti and G. Shanti. Her time of 52.56 in the women’s 400m which was set in 1993 during the Asian Athletics Championships still stands in the Malaysia athletics record to this day.
She even won the Penang Sportswoman of The Year Award in 1990 and 1991. Unfortunately, Rabia Abdul Salam passed away in February 1994. Her loss was definitely felt as she was a rising star in track and field.
4. Mariappan Perumal
Mariappan Perumal was one of the first Paralympic Athlete to represent Malaysia and also the country’s first Paralympic medallist! Mariappan got two bronze medals, one at the 1988 Seoul Olympics and another in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. The Melaka-born athlete was left with a permanent disability after contracting polio at the age of three. However, he NEVER let his disability get in his way at all.
He started bodybuilding and powerlifting in 1980 after meeting a representative from the Society of The Orthopaedically Handicapped (Pocam), who gave him a set of weights so that he could train on his own. Mariappan was able to win a local powerlifting competition after just three months!
Now, this one’s gonna be a bit long because WORLD OF BUZZ got the privilege to contact this Malaysian hero and get her first-hand experience of being a track star. A little backstory, G.Shanti was born on 19 September 1967 in Kuala Kangsar Perak and competed for Malaysia primarily in the 100m and 200m events. She was once dubbed the fastest woman in Southeast Asia after winning gold in the 100m and 200m events in the 1997 Jakarta Sea Games.
The best part?
This was her comeback to the race track after giving birth to her eldest daughter in 1995! Our own Malaysian athlete was already rocking the super mum cape all the way back in 1997. We asked her what drove her to her victories all those years ago and she simply said spirit!
Sharing with WORLD OF BUZZ, she said:
“We didn’t have all those facilities that most athletes nowadays are blessed with, that’s probably what made us want to prove ourselves more. The love for our nation was unparalleled those days.”
A mother of two, G.Shanti currently works as an officer in Maybank and still reminisces of her time on the track. After facing a defeat from Lydia Vega in the 1993 Singapore Sea Games, she almost gave up but came back with a bang four years later! She was awarded the Malaysian Sportswoman of The Year award in 1998.
We asked G.Shanti what advice would she give to young, aspiring athletes out there.
“Perseverance is what got me this far and this is what I tell them also. Don’t let petty factors cloud your path to success,” she said.
Time may have forgotten these legends but we shouldn’t. These athletes gained accolades for the country without much expectations in return and for that, we salute them!
Do you know any yesteryear legends who deserve more appreciation? Let us know in the comments section!