Aik Mong stands tall as badminton great and for being outspoken

Tributes continue to pour in for former national shuttler Tan Aik Mong who passed away yesterday.

Tan, who played singles and doubles for the country from 1966 to 1975, represented Malaysia in the 1970 Thomas Cup finals, won the 1971 Asian Championship title, was a medallist at two SEA Games and was placed third in the World Invitational in 1971.

Dubbed the gentle giant, Tan is younger brother to 1966 All-England champion Aik Huang and had at one time played a role in Kelantan BA and the BA of Malaysia (BAM).

Tan lost his battle against liver cancer yesterday. He was 70.

He will be remembered for his wise and candid words as much as for his badminton prowess. Here are some of his quotes that have been compiled from various sources.

On badminton today

“I remember the days when I had to arrange for a badminton court at the former Umno building at Macalister Road in Penang. We had to buy our own shuttlecocks and called friends to come and play. There were times we were at the sidelines, waiting to be called to have a game of badminton with the veterans who out of pity would invite us to play alongside. Those were the days when training grounds for badminton were scarce. State, club and national training projects were non-existent.”

“Today we see a different scenario. If you show potential, there will be sponsors, state training and club training facilities. We have to ask ourselves why are we no longer a nation to be feared by all. Have we become complacent, lazy, mismanaged or that our direction needs to be adjusted?”

“Yes the players of today do not emphasise enough on the quality of their strokes. They train too hard on just speed and power. For that (Datuk Lee) Chong Wei stands above all.”

“Everyone has progressed, changed and improved in their management but we have remained stagnant … We are not short of money, talents, training facilities and coaches, yet we are not there.”

A young Aik Mong in action.

“Malaysian badminton is down today but not out. There are lots of potential players and it’s for them to find their path to greatness. I feel that maybe it’s time for me to make some contributions and assist those who are considering making badminton a career.”

“Badminton was just a game to play and to excel in. To represent the country and to become one of the greats was all that mattered. Today is totally different. Parents need to realise that it is also a career path and if you are good, then it can be a lucrative path.”

“Education is still important because professional badminton is a thinking game. You have to be a thinking player – crafty, analytic, strategic and wise – or else you would have to depend on a coach telling you what to do all the time. My first advice to all – education is important.”

After chairing a two-hour meeting with national coaches in August 2013 following a directive by then BAM president Tengku Tan Sri Mahaleel Tengku Ariff

“The president has asked me for my help and I’m merely responding. I’ll compile all the feedback from the coaches and pass them to the president. That’s it.”

When asked what Malaysian badminton needed the most

“It has to be better management of coaches and players.”

On quitting as BAM’s Talent Management Group director after just 18 days on the job in September 2013

“I was called by (then) BAM president Tengku Tan Sri Mahaleel Tengku Ariff to assist him in implementing changes and plans to revive Malaysia’s badminton. As all these changes and plans have now been reverted to the original structure, my involvement is no longer necessary.”

“Tengku Mahaleel knows about my decision to quit. That is all that I can say for now.”

On scoring system of today

“The scoring system is made for television. It is more important not to be impatient to score a point …This is because when you hurry your kill, you will tend to make more mistakes.”

“Now a 52-shot rally victory scores only one point while when you make a hurried mistake, you equally give one point. That’s stupid isn’t it?”

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