Sunday, November 20, 2016


By Tony Mariadass
Pictures by Azneal Ishak


DONALD IGNATIUS MARTIN was born in Malaya but won silver and bronze Olympic medals for Australia.
Affectionately known as Don, he was born on Feb 8, 1940 in Kuala Lumpur but his father sent him to study in Perth in 1950.
“My great grandfather who hailed from Pondicherry (India), came to Malaya with the East India Trading company,” said the 77-year-old Donald who was visiting Malaysia this week with his wife Kerry.
“My father was an electrical engineer with Central Electricity Board (now known as TNB) while my mother who is of Thai-Irish descent, was a teacher. I am fourth of five brothers and three sisters.
“I picked up hockey as my father played it.
“We played at our neighbourhood field in Setapak, before my father was transferred to Kota Baru and during the Japanese occupation, in Taiping,” said Donald who studied at St John’s primary school for three years.
“When I joined Aquinas College in Perth, I took up athletics, cricket and Australian rules football as they didn’t have a hockey team.”
Donald said hockey was introduced in Australian in 1952 with the influx of Asians.
“It was then we formed the school team and a Catholic brother, taught us from coaching manuals.
Seven players including Donald were of mixed parentage from Malaya/Singapore in his school’s first XI — his brothers Rod (centreforward) and Peter (centre halfback), goalkeeper and captain Bill Stevenson, Steve Houghton (halfback), Cliff Cardoza (right halfback) and Lionel Jan (right wing).
Donald said after college where he studied to become a cartographic draughtsman, he played for his college’s Old Boys team from 1957 to 1961 before playing for YMCA.
“I had no ambition of playing in the Olympics because I knew little about it until Australia hosted it in 1956,” said Donald who looks more European than Eurasian.
“I joined the trials for the 1956 Olympics team to train with older and more experienced players. I impressed enough to be selected to the training squad but did not make the final squad,” said Donald who stands 1.79m.
He made the Australian national team in 1960 and went on playing tours to New Zealand and India.
“It was in India I had my first encounter with the Malayan team and met (Datuk R) Yogeswaran.
“Many in the team were surprised to learn of my origin.”
His friendship with the players grew as he met them at the 1964 Tokyo and 1968 Mexico City Olympics.
Yogeswaran (right) and C. Paramalingam with Don at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics
Yogeswaran showing the above photograph taken during the 1964 Tokyo Olympics to Donald here in Malaysia on Friday
Malaysia also played four Tests with Australia prior to the Mexico City Games and won one and drew three in matches played in Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney.
They were in the same Group in Mexico City and Malaysia lost 3-0.
Australia qualified for the final only to lose 1-0 to Pakistan.
Malaysia finished joint ninth with Britain out of 15 teams. Four years earlier Malaysia were 15 out of 16 teams.
Donald said he was lucky to have played in Mexico City.
“From 1965 to 1967, I was not in the national team because of work commitments,” he explained.
“But I was selected to the training squad and made the cut. It was a great comeback because we won silver,” said Donald, who was inducted to the Western Australian Hockey Hall of Champions in 2010.
He said he owed a lot to his father’s vision to send his children to study in Perth.
“My progress had a lot to do with my exposure in Perth. I remember training on my own after college or work at Wembley Park in Perth at night under the garden lights.
“I was also lucky to have been playing with so many great players like brothers Eric, Gordon and Melville Pearce. I learnt a great deal from them.”
Only four hockey players have been inducted to the Australian Sporting Hall of Fame and this includes Eric and his brother Julian, Ric Charlesworth and David Bell.
Donald said he emerged from an era where the game was about passion and sacrifices.
Don also said his involvement in other sports like cricket and athletics helped him become a better player in terms of coordination and fitness, while his training under poor light in the park, trained his eyes on focus on the ball.
On whether he would have been the player he was playing in present day conditions – artificial turf and changes in the rules – he said: “It is all about adaption. When I played in Australia, the playing style was different from the game I played when in Malaysia, but I adapted.
“It is all about learning basics, playing the game simple and above all enjoy the game.”
“Players must remember money is the root of the fall of many top players,” he warned.
His parting words for young players were: “Passion, discipline and dedication must always prevail and cannot be compromised. Otherwise, their careers will not last long or be able to reach the pinnacle.”

1964 Malaysian hockey team to Tokyo Olympics:
Ho Koh Chye, K. Anandarajah, M. Shanmuganthan, Michael Arulraj, D. Munusamy, Lawrence van Huizen ,Douglas Nunis, C. Paramalingam, Tara Singh Sindhu.Koh Hock Seng, R. Yogeswaran, A Sabapathy, Ranjit Singh, K. Alagaratnam and Lim Fung Chong
1968 Malaysian hockey team to Mexico Olympics
Ho Koh Chye, Francis Belavantheran, Sri Shanmuganathan, K. Alagaratnam, Ammenudin Mohamad Ibrahim, Joseph Johnson, Savinder Singh, A. Sabapathy, Yang Siow Meng, Koh Hock Seng, Hamahal Singh, Koh Chong Jin, Shanmuganathan Jeevajothy, R. Yogeswaran, Kuldup Singh and Loong Whey Pyu

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