Hockey icon P. Alagendra believes gold medal from Tokyo Olympics still possible

Tan Sri P. Alagendra is synonymous with hockey. The former Selangor top cop was a player, coach and manager, but more well-known as an administrator.

While sad that the national hockey team has not qualified for the Olympics since 2000, Alagendra is a strong supporter of the Malaysian contingent currently competing at the Tokyo Olympics.

He firmly believes the country can strike gold for the first time in history.

“A gold medal? Why not? We have the spirit, and we are fighters. I believe in the magic of sports. So, it could happen,” said Alagendra, a member of the Malayan hockey team that finished ninth at the 1956 Olympics.

“Every single one of our athletes is world-class, and our cyclists and divers are among the world’s best.

“They have handled the disruptions in training, the postponement of the Tokyo Games, and the pandemic restrictions like true champions.

“Display the same mental strength, and there is every chance we will see Malaysia bring home the first Olympic gold!”

The most likely candidate is Datuk Azizulhasni Awang in cycling, and divers Pandelela Rinong Pamg and Cheong Jun Hoong.

Pandelela and Cheong are in the women’s 10m platform event that begins on Wednesday.

Azizulhasni could have some competition from teammate Muhammad Shah Firdaus Sahrom. Both have qualified for the individual sprint and keirin events, which start later this week.

At the 2016 Olympics, Azizulhasni won bronze in the keirin.

Now 92, Alagendra is among the country’s four oldest living Olympians. The others are Wilfred ‘Freddy’ Vias, M. Harichandra and Ronnie Theseira.

Vias was the vice-captain of the 1956 hockey team and is the oldest of the four. He turns 93 in October.

Middle-distance runner Harichandra, who took up Singapore citizenship in 1958, turned 91 last month, and is the youngest. He competed in the 800m in Melbourne.

Fencer Theseira turned 91 in May. He competed in the individual foil, epee and sabre events at the 1964 Olympics.

Asked how it feels to be in an elite club, Alagendra said: “I am proud to be one of the oldest Olympians in the country. Besides the 1956 Olympics, I also went to the 1964 Games as coach and team manager in 1968 and 1976.

“I was an FIH (International Hockey Federation) judge for the 1976 Montreal and 1992 Barcelona Olympics, and chef de mission in Sydney, eight years later. I have wonderful memories from those Olympics.”

In 2019, Alagendra was honoured by the World Olympian Association (WOA) and conferred the title ‘OLY’ (an abbreviation for Olympian).

“While I feel a deep sense of pride at being a member of the first Malayan team to the Olympic Games, I also feel a deep sense of responsibility to motivate the young, be a role model, and give back to the sport and country,” he added.