Monday, September 22, 2014

Doctor for all seasons

Saturday, SEPTEMBER 20, 2014 - the Malay Mail

BY tony mariadass
DATUK DR P.S. NATHAN is among the rare breed of sports personalities who has excelled as a dermatologist, sportsman and administrator — locally and internationally. Dr Nathan, who turns 81 on November 3, is still active as the founding president of the Malaysian Tenpin Bowing Congress (MTBC) and as a consultant dermatologist.
Excelled in sports and professional life
Son of a clerk, Dr Nathan was born in Seremban and is a product of St Paul's Institution and Victoria Institution.
He is much sought after as a dermatologist and his son, Ruban, now works with him.
Former prime minister Tun Hussein Onn presenting a medal to Dr Nathan after Malaysia won the trios World FIQ gold medal in Manila in 1979.
Took up bowling at a late age
His favourite statement “playing for fun is not my style” explains why he excelled even though he started bowling when he was 35.
“Age is only a chronological number. What is important is the biological age,” said Dr Nathan.
“I was very fit having played games all my life — even when I became a doctor. I also played badminton regularly.
“My wife (S. Malathy) got me hooked on bowling. She had been bowling with our neighbour in a morning tea league and suggested I try it.
“I did it to please her and found it challenging. But I also had a knack for it.”
Took up bowling at a late age
“In my first game I got 127 which I was told was not bad considering I used a house ball. The rest was history.” Malathy was also an international bowler.
For them and their friends, bowling didn’t end at the lanes but continued at home.
The husband and wife team entered the Guinness Book of Records for their feat of having featured in three successive AMF Bowling World Cups — from 1975 to 1977.
They also represented the country at the first World Games at Santa Clara, United States in 1981.
Three years earlier, Dr Nathan captained the five-man Malaysian team who won gold at the Bangkok Asian Games where he scored the highest average.
That was the first time bowling was played at the Games.
The other members of the team were Holloway Cheah, Allan Hooi, J.B. Koo and Edward Lim. When the sport made its debut at the 1975 SEAP Games, he was the first Malaysian to win a gold medal.
Dr Nathan receiving his SEA Games singles gold medal at the Bangkok Games.
Not an overnight achievement
In Malaysia, bowling began at a centre in Penang in 1961 and was somewhat of a novelty. Only the affl uent could afford it as it was an expensive game.
Today, bowling centres have sprouted all over the country and remains a favourite sport for the young and old.
A national bowling association was formed in 1965, but it died quietly in 1973.
Dr Nathan gave the sport a new lease of life when he formed MTBC in 1974, and he has been at its helm since.
Parlour game to world level
From being regarded as a parlour game, bowling has grown into one of the top sports in Malaysia, thanks to the suport by the government.
The results of the Malaysian bowling team over the years and their current standing as one of the top bowling nations in the world speak volumes for what Dr Nathan has done.
But the modest doctor refuses to take full credit and insisted it was the people who worked with him who played an instrumental role in elevating the Malaysian bowling scene to its current status.
They include the likes the late Peter Yap, former national coach Sid Allen, former secretary-general Sidney Tung, the current office bearers and the National Sports Council.
Dr Nathan cut a dashing figure in his heyday
World level
He was the Asian Bowling Federation vice president in 1975 and later became president from 1984 to 1988.
Dr Nathan was also the World Tenpin Bowling Association (WTBA) president for three terms.
He was first elected president in 1987 and served two terms before relinquishing the post.
In 1999, he made a comeback when he saw the sport suffering and was elected for the third time in Abu Dhabi.
Among his contributions were putting bowling houses in order, implementing proper ball controls and lane dressing, implementing world rankings, getting neutral equipment facilities and funds for WTBA and holding regular world coaching clinics and certification for coaches.
He even had bowling shortlisted for the Olympics Games at the IOC meeting in Mexico in 2002, but it didn’t make it to the final round.
He was instrumental in getting bowling included in the 1998 KL Commonwealth Games — for the first time in the history of the Games — and the birth of the inaugural Commonwealth Bowling championship in Scotland last year after having put together the Commonwealth Tenpin Bowling Federation.
Besides bowling, Dr Nathan also served as vice president of the Olympic Council of Malaysia. He was the chef-de-mission for the 1991 Manila Sea Games and a board member of the 1998 Commonwealth Games.
What more
Asked what more is he looking for the sport, he simply replied: “As long as I can serve the sport and the people want me, I will continue to serve them, “It is the same for my medical profession where as long as my patients believe in me and want to see me, I will serve them.
“I have no succession plans. I believe it will take care of itself when the time comes. There will be people to take over.”
Indian classical music lover
The doctor has other interests too. He loves Indian classical music which is not surprising as his wife was a classical dancer during her younger days. The doctor put his love for music to good use.
He is actively involved in charitable work, having been the secretary of the Kuala Lumpur Home Nursing Service Association.
He has brought the India Beat six times, singlehandedly staging the Charity Concert of Indian Classical Music and Dance.
The proceeds went to the Temple of Fine Arts and setting up a dialysis centre and also the MTBC.
With so much going on in his life, one wonders where he finds the time to put his personal touch in everything he does.

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