Sunday, March 26, 2017

GOLFER P. GUNASEGARAN PASSES ON - A TRIBUTE TO HIM



‘JACK NICKLAUS OF MALAYSIA’
    

MALAYSIAN golf shed a tear yesterday.
One of its pioneering heroes, P. Gunasegaran died at Selayang Hospital at 10am. He was 53.
Gunasegaran’s son Yogendran, said his father passed away from multiple organ failure due to a stroke that he had suffered a few days ago.
Fellow professional Airil Rizman, said Gunasegaran suffered his first stroke a few years back.
Popularly known as P. Gunasegaran or Guna, he was best remembered for his heroics in the 1994 Malaysian Open at Royal Selangor Golf Club.
He played the best final round of his life when he got into an epic eight-hole playoff with Frank Nobilo and Joakim Haegmann.
In an exclusive interview with Golf Digest Malaysia in 2011, Gunasegaran finally told the nation what had happened that fateful Sunday.
“People were asking what’s going on, what happened to my life and how could I have missed that crucial putt in the playoff to lose the Malaysian Open title and where did I go from there,” Gunasegaran recalled.
“I had two chances to win during the playoff but I missed putts from 12 feet. I made some mistakes.”
He added: “At the end of the day, I could honestly say I had given my best shot, went all out in that tournament for the country and for myself.
“I kept my cool for that final putt but sometimes in golf, just like in life itself, things do not work out the way you planned and I missed the putt. Disappointed? Definitely.
“That was a big miss indeed. But, I wouldn’t cry over spilled milk and feel miserable my whole life.
“I shunned the media spotlight, because there was nothing to be told or glorified about that missed putt. To me, it’s just another game which I didn’t win.”
Together with former pro M. Ramayah, Gunasegaran brought golf into the forefront by regularly performing well on the local and international circuits.
They were the top two golfers in the country and were the go-to guys when the national team came calling.
During the 1990s when on the rare occasions golf events were televised, Malaysians loved to tune in and watch these two gentlemen play alongside the world’s best golfers.
Gunasegaran rarely disappointed.
Coming from a modest income family, Gunasegaran had to fight all his life to make a decent living.
He started as caddie in his hometown of Kuala Kubu Baru in 1972, earning a mere RM0.80 before getting a raise to RM2.50.
He turned pro 20 years later, but not before winning a SEA Games gold medal in 1989.
He was also planning to open an academy at his old club as a way of giving back to the game.
Before his death, there was uncertainty and confusion among the golf fraternity as it was initially reported he had died on Friday.
It turned out to be untrue as he was still on life support but by which time, many had paid tribute and expressed their condolences.
It all started on Tuesday when a relative went to check on him after friends and family were unable to reach him for almost three days.
They noticed he was alone at home and in distress. He could not move and had probably not eaten anything for the three days he was unreachable.
Paramedics were summoned and they rushed Gunasegaran to Kuala Kubu Baru Hospital on Tuesday night where he was placed under observation.
At 4am Wednesday morning, they moved the 1989 SEA Games gold medallist to Hospital Selayang where he had a stroke the following day.
He hung on for two more days before taking his last breathe.
Gunasegaran leaves wife N. Nalina, 38, son Yogendran, 21, and daughters, Thanusha, 18, and Thanushini, 14.
 Patrick Ho is editor of
Golf Digest Malaysia

TRIBUTES
    
R. Nachimuthu (former national golfer)
“We have been travelling together the past two years since his health started deteriorating. He couldn’t handle the long drives alone. We shared a lot about golf and how we could improve our game. He was a very quiet person and kept mostly to himself. I enjoyed our trips as he was someone I looked up to as a senior. He always had time to give me advice when I needed it. I’ll miss him.”
M. Ramayah (former national golfer)
“He was someone who had strong beliefs. If he felt he was right he would not budge and always stood up for his friends. When he was Malaysia’s No 1, he didn’t look for sponsors. He was a fierce fighter on the course and a gentleman off it. He had been taking medicine for kidney, diabetes and high blood pressure. Two years ago he stopped taking medicine as it was getting too expensive. Guna said he was doing fine without it after a year of not taking medicine regularly.”
B. Rajkumar (former national athlete)
“He was my childhood friend. He was a quiet person, very confident in his abilities. Guna never hurt anyone and would lend a helping hand if needed.”

Gavin Green
(professional golfer)
“He was a legend and his success paved the way for many! I see him as the Jack Nicklaus of Malaysia. He was hard working and determined and most importantly, he truly did love golf.”
Danny Chia
(professional golfer)
“Guna was a quiet person but when he talks, it’s straight to the point. He inspired me a lot, especially when he almost won the Malaysian Open. He has done so much for professional golf in Malaysia. He will be missed.”
Airil Rizman
(professional golfer)
“He was definitely a great man and an idol to all of us. True definition of hard work pays off. RIP.”
Nicholas Fung (professional golfer)
“It’s a loss for Malaysian golf. His presence and contributions will always be remembered.”


By Tony Mariadass

Guna’s green, green grass of home

[Interview conducted May, 2016 in Kuala Kubu Baru]

Golfer Periasamy Gunasegaran is still staying relevant in the game thanks to his club – Kuala Kubu Baru Golf and Country Club (KKBGC) – and close friends from this town.
Born and bred in this small town, Gunasegaran, who is still best remembered as the closest to being the first Malaysian to win the Malaysian Open in 1994 when he lost in an epic eight-hole play-off to Sweden’s Joakim Haeggmann, is still making a name for himself at the game.
At 53, Gunasegeran won the Asian Senior Master 2016 at the Tering Bay Golf and Country Club in Batam in early April to book the only ticket from Asia to compete in the PGA Senior Tour champions event – the Insperity Invitational (May 2-8) - at the Woodlands Country Club in Houston.
Playing in a field of 81 golfers which was rated as one the strongest field of the Tour, Gunasegaran had for company the who’s who list of golfers with the likes of 2015 champion Ian Woosnam , seven other past winners of the event—Larry Nelson (2004), Mark McNulty (2005), Jay Haas (2006), John Cook (2009), Brad Faxon (2011), Fred Funk (2012) and Esteban Toledo (2013) and in addition, five World Golf Hall-of-Fame members - Tom Kite, Mark O’Meara, Curtis Strange, Colin Montgomerie and Sandy Lyle.

“I was simply amazed at field. It was a lifetime dream come true as the field had a combination of golf’s legends, new PGA tour champions members, Hall of Fame members and the best players in the world age 50 and over,” said Gunasegran who finished 48th.
“You say anything about these legends, but they were a friendly lot who had time for everyone. I was not only rubbing shoulders with them, but had them giving words of encouragement and having conversations with them. It was an experience of a lifetime for me.”
Guansegeran said that he had to thank his club, where he had started off as a caddy in 1972 to have become an amateur golfer, a professional and still playing.
“I owe it to my club members who have very supportive in me making golf a career. Without their financial support I will not have achieved all I have till date,” said the resident pro of KKBGC.
“Besides my club, another hometown friend, S. Gopi, a successful businessman has been very supportive and if for his substantial contribution I would not have made it to Houston,” said Gunasegaran who had to spend about RM17,000 for the US trip besides another RM5,000 for the qualifier in Batam.
“I am also indebted to my equipment sponsor – Srixon – who have supported me for the last 20 years.”
Gunasegran started caddying with his childhood buddy, B. Rajkumar – the Asian Track and Field championship 800m gold medallist in 1985 in Jakarta and who still holds the national record with his winning time of 1.47.37
“Rajukumar was an excellent golfer too and a single handicapper. But he choose to take up athletics, while I decided it was golf for me,” said Gunasegaran who still plays with Rajkumar at the club course.
Gunasegeran who was a member of the Sea Games gold medal winning team at the 1989 Games in Kuala Lumpur and individual silver at the 1991 Manila Sea, turned professional in 1992 winning his first title as a pro at the Singapore PGA the same year. There has been no looking back since then winning numerous titles.
KKB has been a haven for top golfers for besides, Gunasegaran, it has had two other professionals – R. Narchimuthu and late A. Dorairaj.
Guansegaran is hoping that a fourth golfer from KKBGC will do the small town proud, but said that things have changed from the time they used to play.
“We hardly get any local boys playing here. Almost everyone has left for the brighter city lights. Those days, the golf course was our source of extra income as schoolboys. We caddied and earned starting with 80 sen and in the later years, about RM2.50 for a round of 18 holes.
“Today we have no caddies. The golfers use the buggy.”
But Gunasegeran still remains very relevant at KKBGC as he is looked upon by the members for tips in the game and also to have him play a round of game with them.
“I do conduct coaching course to individuals who approach me. Tried to start a gold academy here, but there was little response.”
Gunasegaran said he is just happy with what he is doing and playing in senior tournaments from time to time, while KKBGC will remain his home forever.



Friday, March 24, 2017

HITTING THE BULLSEYE




    

MENTION darts and the perception is it is a parlour sport associated with alcohol, smoking, gambling and exclusively played in pubs.
However, Malaysia Darts Association (MDA) helmed by Nancy Ambrose, are making a concerted effort to change that image.


Darts is gaining popularity among youngsters and is being played in community halls, specially designed arenas and government departments.
MDA secretary Pathmanathan Chandraraja is also going out of his way to popularise the game by organising the inaugural singles Foco Darts League (FDL) starting on April 1.
It is no April Fool’s joke, but a league which will see top 24 darters compete over three weeks in Klang.
Pathma, as he known among the darting circle, is 45-years-old and hails from Teluk Intan.
Among his businesses is a darts accessories outlet in Bandar Bukit Tinggi in Klang, as the sole distributor of Foco — an international steel and soft darts brand from Portugal.
Pathma has also sponsored many other tournaments throughout the country, supplying up to 20 dart boards per competitions.
“After the competitions, I sell the boards for a low price of RM150 to RM250,” said Pathma.


“Foco means focus in English and I am focused on elevating the status of darts.”
Pathma revealed many competitions are held in in community halls and in towns like Bagan Serai, Bagan Datuk and Sintok.
Darts is an inexpensive game. One can get a good board for between RM250 to RM300. Dart sets range from RM200 to RM250.
It is played by men and women of all ages and 80 per cent of active darts players in Malaysia are Malays.
Astro air many international dart competitions and some top championships are shown live. This has generated a huge following.
Nancy said MDA also have plans for a women’s league.
MDA tried to promote darts in schools, but initial discussions hit a brick wall because it was felt it was dangerous as darts can be used as “weapons”.
“We will continue our efforts to reach the schools. Many youngsters play darts and it would be better they compete under supervision,” said Nancy.


 From left: Malaysian Dart Association vice-presidents  A Azmi Arif, R.Balansingan, deputy president Malaysian Dart Associations Ravi Suppiah, secretary general Pathmanathan Chandraraja, president Nancy Ambrose and sponsor Kamalini Vellah, director from Reka Tulin Services at the press conference of The FOCA Darts League last week. Pix by Malay Mail/Firdaus Latif
Pathma said if schools are interested, they could even organise a league for them.
“Darts is a sport where Malaysians can attain world recognition. Former Asian champion Mathivan Selvarajoo, better known as MS Raja, was once ranked No 3 in the world,” said Pathma.
MDA have lined up several competition to promote Malaysian darters, among which is the Asian qualifiers for next year’s Lake Side BDO Men’s World Championship in England.
The Asian qualifiers are at Federal Hotel on Sept 28, one day before the Malaysian Open, at the same venue, from Sept 29 to Oct 1.
For the FDL, the champion receives RM3,000 and a fully paid trip to compete in the Taranaki Open Darts Championship in Auckland in July.
Pathma admitted changing the perception of darts may be a long process but he draws inspiration from tenpin bowing.
Bowling was considered a parlour sport not too long ago, but today it is widely played at schools and winning honours at Asian and world level.
Darts may have bigger challengers but that is not going to derail MDA.
Said Nancy: “Archery has been accepted and competed widely at grassroots level.
“We may take some time to convince the authorities that it is a sports which can be introduced at secondary schools level, but we will not be discouraged by the battle ahead.”
TONY is a sports journalist with close to four decades’ experience and is passionate about local sports.He can be reached at tmariadass@gmail.com

Sunday, March 19, 2017

VETERANS STILL BLOOMING




    

NOT a week goes by without a friendly veterans’ football match played over the weekend or public holidays, and there are at least two to three veteran’s tournaments organised around the country every month.
N. Thashnamoorthy, 46, revealed this is due to Malaysian Football Veterans (MFV) that have 75 teams as members!
Thashnamoorthy,  is still in the process of getting all veteran clubs across the country to register, which could easily run to more than 100.
“Presently we have 75 clubs,” said Thashnamoorthy who initiated the association.

“We hope to register the club with either the Registrar of Societies or the Sports Commissioner’s office soon.
“It started with my involvement with the Rawang Indians FC (RIFC), and we wanted to set up a database for friendly matches and to invite teams for tournaments.
“It was then I decided to form MFC and we had our first meeting to form the association in January 2015. We started with five teams,” said the former Selangor Razak Cup, Malaysia Games and President’s Cup player (1987-90).
Thashnamoorthy said football in Rawang has a strong following.
“RIFC also conducts coaching clinics and have a development programme for youngsters.
MFV vice-president Sashi Dharan, a former Selangor player in 1992, said they are working hard to come up with a constitution to outline their goals, besides just playing friendlies and organising tournaments.

“We plan to do development work through these clubs in various states, organising coaching clinics and basic coaching courses through FA of Malaysia (FAM) or state FAs, so we can have qualified coaches.
“We also plan to have a national league. Since the number is big and spread throughout the country, we are planning to have zonal tournaments — North, South, Central and East Coast, before the top teams from each zone play in the Grand Finals.”
Another football enthusiast, K Senthil Vaasan, a 47-year-old lawyer, has started the Masters Football League (MFL).
Senthil, who used to play with Redface FC in the “Social League” in the Klang Valley, which is for players above 30, decided to set up MFL to cater for older players.
The league started in 2014.
There are 18 teams that re divided into two groups — the Blue group (competitive) and Red Group (fun league), with matches played every fortnight from February to November, with a break during fasting month.
“I am not aware of MFV, and I am not surprised there are so many veteran teams in the country. In the Klang Valley we have 18 teams playing in MFL,” said Senthil.
MFL is run by Senthil and his friends, but the teams organise matches based on fixtures released. A registration fee of RM900 is collected, of which RM250 is used for administration and RM350 for prizes, while RM300 is a deposit returned when the teams complete the season.
Many established clubs like Royal Selangor Club, Club Aman, UKRC, Penang Sports Club, Ipoh Club, Royal Sungei Ujong Club and International Football Club, just to name a few, have their own veteran teams and organise their own tournaments and friendlies.
Veteran football is huge in Malaysia and it only underlines how popular the game is despite Malaysia’s poor standing in the international arena.

Veteran Football Malaysia members

1. Rawang Indians Football Club (Selangor)
2. Kelab Rekearsi Muhibbah Masyarakat Selangor (KRMMS) - Shah Alam
2. Pemuda Cheras Veteran - KL
3. Ipoh Friday's Club Veteran (Ipoh,Perak)
4. Old Boy's Kickers FC (KL)
5. Pemuda Cheras  KL 
6. Subang Rovers – Subang Selangor 
7. Kelab Sukan Mines Veteran (Sunway)
8. Karuppu Nila FC ( Kapar Selangor)
9. Dengkil Veteran (Cyberjaya Selangor)                   
10. Kelab Sukan Motherwell -Bandar Sunway
11. My Guysfc 
12. Kapar Youngster Veteran (Kapar Selangor)
13. Kapar FC Veteran (Kapar Selangor )
14. PD Veteran (Port Dickson, Negeri Sembilan)
15. Kelab Sukan Sentullian (Sentul,KL)
16. SEAPORT FC( Kelana Jaya)
17. Kelab Bolasepak Silver Galaxy ( Puchong ) Selangor
18 Mutiara Veterans - Penang
19. Omnitech FC (Shah Alam)Selangor
20. MMGVFC Maha Maariaaman Gandhi F.C. (PJ)
21. Kelab Bolasepak Pemuda Pandamaran Jaya(PPJ Veteran) - Port Klang.
22. Johor Bahru Rangers FC (Johor)
23. Siliau Veteran Seremban
24. Kapar Indian Veteran (Selangor)
25. South City FC (KL)
26. Kelab Bolasepak Veteran Sri Muda (Shah Alam )
27. Paya Besar Veteran (Kulim Kedah)
28. Kedah Old Boys (Sg Petani)
29. Kulim Veteran(Kulim)
30. Alor Setar Veteran Club (Alor Setar)
31. KSSN(Penang)
32. Waterfall Rangers Sports Club (Penang)
33. SPJ Veteran (Sg Petani)
34. Prai Veteran (Prai Penang)
35. We United (Nibong Tebal)

36. SP Brothers (Sg Petani)
37. Highlands FC (Klang)
38. Star Brite SC (Port Klang)
39. Selangor Indian Sport Council (Selangor)
40. Gullit FC Veteran (Pahang) 
41. Seremban Masters F.C. (SMFC) Seremban.
42. Interact Recreation Club (Negri Sembilan)
43. Rangers FC, (KL)
44. JPP Sepang, Sepang, Selangor
45. Segamat Indians Veteran, Segamat  (Johor)
46. Padang Jawa Veteran - Klang
47. Serdang Raya Veteran- Seri Kembangan
48. Prakash Putra Perwira (Sri Muda Shah Alam)
49. Gold Star Veteran FC (Klang)
50. Kelab Bolasepak Bukit Tinggi (KBBT) – Klang
51. Damansara PJ Veteran
52. Serdang Veterans
53. Peninsular Indians Club- Seremban 
54. KIA Veteran Club, Ipoh Perak
55. Anifield Kops KL
56. Pahand FC Veteran
57. Friend Vision FC - Kajang
58. Wawasan 2020-Selangor
59. Seremban Jaya Indian FC - Negeri Sembilan
60. Kelab Bolasepak Klang Star, Selangor
61. Millennium VTR Port Dickson
62. Waterfall Veteran (Penang)
63. Peritrans Veteran (Banting, Selangor)
64. Indian Association Penang.          
 65. FC Ampar Tenang Veteran (Dengkil, Selangor)                                   
66. Kelab Sukan MPKE, Sepang.
67 TIFA Temerloh
68. Veteran Batu Caves, Selangor
69. Maluri Veteran FC (KL)
70 Tebrau FC JB
71 Persatuan Pemuda Kuala Selangor Indians (PPKSI)
72. Kuantan Brothers FC Pahang
73. Batcha FC Veterans, Selangor.
74. Sungai Sedu Banting Veterans . Selangor.
75. Hotspurs Setapak ,KL

Saturday, March 18, 2017

ANNATASIA'S WALK OF LIFE

  
    
By Tony Mariadass
Pictures by: Abdul Razak Ghazali


THE life of some sports champions seems all too short.
They wheel across the landscape of our interest for brief, glittering moments and go off to where we see them in an altered perspective.
In some instances, after a brilliant start they disappear altogether, leaving us with wistful contemplation of the what-might-have-been.
Former national champion walker and Olympian Annatasia Karen Raj Silvaraj flickered briefly, if winningly, in the sporting limelight before going on to forge a new career off the track.
The brevity of her sports career was as if Annatasia instinctively knew the wisdom of the line from a poem about the transience of sporting glory: “And early though the laurel grows, it withers quicker than the rose.”
Well, Annatasia’s laurels in walking did come early for one who came to the sport by chance, but something in her determination and willpower prevented her from dwelling on them.
Anna, as she is affectionately called in athletic circles, quit walking after the 1998 Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur after only four years in the limelight. She finished fifth in the Games.
She was just 21 when she became the first woman walker from Malaysia to qualify for the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games, where she finished a creditable 24th out of 46 qualifiers, setting a national record of 45:47s in the 10km race.
Race walking records are about the most brittle of marks in track and field. Even then, Annatasia’s record of rewriting the national mark 13 times in four years is considered remarkably prolific.
Annatasia, who had won gold medals at the Chiangmai and Jakarta SEA Games in 1995 and 1997 respectively, also competed in the 1994 World Cup for walking.
The Sentul Pasar-born had a tough early life and had wanted to change all that, hoping sports will blaze the way.
But she left disillusioned.
She recalled: “At the Changmai SEA Games I had to walk with borrowed shoes from fellow walker Teoh Tay Wah. The shoe had a hole in front and I got a cobbler to sew a leather strip to cover the hole.
“Things could have been better for the athletes then.”
The Convent Sentul student started her working career as a part-time waitress at Concorde Hotel in Kuala Lumpur when only 17, in 1992.
It was former national walker and coach V Subramaniam who discovered Annatasia when she was a runner and was training at the Lake Gardens.
“I owe my walking career to coach Subramaniam,” said Anna who stands 1.63m.
“He believed in me when I myself did not believe in myself. I remember the first walk race he entered me only after two weeks of training and I came out last.
“I wanted to quit, but it was Subramaniam who kept me going.”
Anna said coaches and parents play an equally important roles in an athlete’s development.
“My parents gave me full support and encouragement,” she said.
Annatasia said when she quit athletics, she returned to job as a bank teller.
“It was then a journalist, Wani Muthiah, who told me that I should pursue my studies and wrote a story if anybody wanted to help a former national athlete continue her studies.
“I was offered a scholarship by Limkokwing Institute of Creative Technology’s founder-president Tan Sri Lim Kok Wing.
“I did a diploma course in Advertising, Multimedia and Broadcasting, majoring in Multimedia.
“I am forever indebted to Wani for encouraging me to continue my studies.”
Annatasia worked for a while with Limkokwing Institute but she wanted better things.
“That was when I joined Kelly Services where I got the job because the boss recognised me as a former national walker.
“But instead of resting on my laurels as a former national athlete, I decided I needed to earn my stripes as a worker.”
That’s when Annatasia moved up the occupational ladder and switched to other employers which included Symphony BPO Solutions Sdn Bhd (previously known as Vsource Asia Bhd) as HR Manager; Convergys HR Management AsiaPac as Resourcing Manager Aspac – China, Singapore & Malaysia; Standard Chartered Bank & Scope International Malaysia Sdn Bhd as Country Head Talent Acquisition, and Hong Leong Bank as Senior Human Resource Manager.
Still looking for more challenges, she decided to venture out of Malaysia and when she landed a job with Lear Corporation of Shanghai, an automotive company dealing with car electrical appliances and seats, she took the plunge.
“If my employers saw the potential in me, it was my task to prove that they were not making a mistake,” said Annatasia.
“I knew was I was going to a foreign land where I did not even speak their language. But I was game for it and have been with them since early last year.”

Annatasia is the director of talent acquisition of Asia Pacific.
Her family — husband Joseph Anthony and children Azriel (9), Alexia (11) and Asher (14) — are with her.
“The children are in an international school and my husband is studying again (Mandarin), we live comfortably. We love it there.
“I’m glad I made the decision to go there. It’s a fantastic place which is very modernised, safe and the people are friendly and helpful.
“It’s hard work but I’m enjoying every minute of it.”
Annatasia said sportsmen and women have to fend for themselves after their sporting careers.
“They cannot expect to be spoonfed just because they were national athletes and cannot live on past glory.
“Of course, the sports associations and government should assist them in their career paths after their sporting lives, but the initiative should be taken by sportsmen and women themselves,” said the Sports Women of Kuala Lumpur for 1996 and Olympian of the Year 1997.
Indeed Anna should serve as an inspiration to sportsmen and women looking for a career after sports.