Thursday, October 23, 2008

The day I Played against a World CHAMPION!

Here is a picture of me in 1995 shaking hands with CHINA's No: 1 badminton player and former WORLD SINGLES CHAMPION..Zhao Jianhua.
I pointed to him with the 'ok' sign and we were both smiling, he mischievously. There was a reason for that!
He came out of the blue ,early one morning, while I was at my table in the PE office at Hwa Chong JC. No prior notice....just like that! He was accompanied by Dr Ow Chin Hock's daughter who was our student. Dr Ow was a Member of Parliament then.
We spoke or rather he spoke while I tried my level best not to disgrace our ancestors who were mandarin speakers. He came with the purpose of testing and trying out our badminton courts, which was at that time the best in S'pore. But he came unprepared. Except for his racquet, he was in long jeans and t-shirt ( not the one in the pic. This one I gave him to wear after "our encounter" ) .
I brought him to our hall and......students having PE there suddenly stopped all activities and stared in disbelief. After checking out the courts' flooring ( the best....from West Germany then), I invited Zhao to test it out. We took our own racquets and started stroking in cavalier fashion. Then I thought to myself why not ask him for a game since we were already on court. I did that. He, the gentleman that he was, readily agreed. And so we played...just one set, he in long jeans, me in long pants but both with proper shoes. The students were all watching... enthralled! For the record, he won the set, I lost. The score....let's just say it was not a "duck's" game as I managed to score a couple of points against a World Champion! ( but he winked his eyes !!!). As if to say, you know what I mean...
We were both drenched after the game I gave Zhao that new T-shirt to wear before I introduced him to the principal and my fellow Heads of Department.
That occasion was the only time that unk Dicko has ever played against a legendary World Champion in any sport...let alone in his top sport!
Btw, I have followed the sport of Badminton for a mighty long time, since the 50's...followed all the performances of the great players from Indonesia, Singapore,Malaya,China,Denmark and elsewhere...seen many up close personally, interviewed some, etc..., for me and many people out there, ZHAO JIANHUA is truly one of the Greatest, if not the greatest player of all time ( at his peak).

No comments: