Many would remember Cheah Soon Kit’s partner as either Soo Beng Kiang or Yap Kim Hock.
Some remember the Cheah-Soo partnership who helped Malaysia win the 1992 Thomas Cup.
Others remember watching Cheah and Yap win the nation’s first Olympic silver medal at the 1996 Atlanta Games – although Ng Boon Bee-Punch Gunalan had also won a silver medal when badminton was a demonstration sport at the 1972 Olympics.
Regardless of Cheah’s partner on the court, badminton is a unifying factor and what better way to be reminded of this than by watching inspiring sports films in conjunction with the Merdeka and Malaysia Day celebrations.
Astro has dedicated a new channel – Malaysiaku HD Channel (CH 700) – featuring 40 Malaysian films and documentaries.
Among the movies to be aired from Aug 30 to Sept 17 is Ola Bola, a story about our national football team’s quest to qualify for the 1980 Olympics, Serve & Smash: The Thomas Cup 1992, The Sapok Biki Story which put Malaysia on the global arena for boxing and Tiger Resurrected – The Suzuki Cup 2010 which is about the Asean Football Federation Cup two-legged final against Indonesia.
Cheah, who was present at the launch of ‘Celebrating Malaysiaku’ last week, said the initiative brought back many fond memories of 1992.
“I’m sure many Malaysians remember the night we won the Thomas Cup.
“Hopefully the film will inspire many parents to allow their children to pursue badminton as a career.”
He had always dreamt of putting on the national jersey and watching Serve & Smash reminded him of the feeling when he first played for Malaysia.
“I was only 18 (1986 Thomas Cup) when I made my debut. It was a special feeling and one I wish more players will experience,” said Cheah.
“The 1992 team had a reunion in April and we had Tun Siti (Hasmah Mohamad Ali) who was (then) the patron (of Badminton Association of Malaysia) to thank for arranging it.
“We were so happy to meet after all these years.”
Cheah said he hopes to see Malaysia regain the coveted title and also win a gold medal at the Olympics and World Championships.
“But for this to happen, our shuttlers need to have a professional mindset.
“They cannot just depend on BAM. They must be more independent in their thinking and improve themselves.”
“Badminton has changed so much since 1992 and our players need to adapt too.”
Another member of the 1992 team, Kwan Yoke Meng, agreed with Cheah.
Kwan, the national youth coach, has 60 players under him but admitted not all could make the cut on the international stage.
“This is something parents must accept. Badminton is not an easy career as everyone wants to be on top,” said Kwan.
“You must be dedicated and train very, very hard. Parents nowadays manja (spoil) their children.
“They are upset if training is too tough. They must remember: ‘susah dulu, kemudian senang’ (suffer now, reap the rewards later).
“It is a good move by Astro to show such movies. This film (Smash & Serve) will surely inspire many and help promote badminton.
He added badminton is among the top two sports in Malaysia and hoped to see more players being part of the national stable.