Badminton Life

Gunalan Breaks Final Ties With Badminton

Malaysian stalwart Punch Gunalan said goodbye to a 23-year administrative alliance with badminton when he stepped down as president of the Kuala Lumpur Badminton Association (KLBA) this week during their general meeting.

The 64-year-old Gunalan, a former All England doubles champion and singles runner-up, also automatically loses his position as a vice-president of the Badminton Association of Malaysia, which is given to heads of state associations.

Gunalan was earlier forced to step down as deputy president of world governing body Badminton World Federation (BWF) after May's Thomas Cup Finals and Jakarta, Indonesia.

He was given a no-confidence vote, spearheaded by the Mongolian Badminton Association, for his part in trying to topple BWF president Kang Young-joong in the early part of the year.

However, Gunalan, upon his departure from the world body, wished badminton well and was satisfied that he was able to play a part in the growing popularity of the game.

He told The Star newspaper in Malaysia that he was resigning because of health reasons, having recently undergone a heart-bypass operation.

"It's the end of my involvement in badminton," he was quoted as saying by the newspaper. "I will not hold any position after this. I first came into badminton administration in 1985 and I am happy with what I had achieved, including the introduction of the Super Series and the increase in prize money in tournaments. I also helped to get badminton into the Olympics (in Barcelona in 1992)."

Replacing Gunalan as president of the KLBA is Andrew Kam, the owner of the powerful KLRC Bhd, who was elected unopposed. Kam also takes over Gunalan's post as a vice-president of the BAM.

"I think that I was proposed for the president's post because of my work with KLRC and what we done to help promote the game," said Kam, who will serve for two years before the next KLBA annual meeting.

KLRC has been a strong force in domestic badminton over the past few years, and has been trying to snap up the best shuttlers.

Gunalan, meanwhile, did not mention what he will be doing in retirement but his departure marks the end of an era.

He is also the second high-profile Malaysian to leave a major sports body in the past year with former Asian Football Confederation general secretary Peter Velappan stepping down in 2007.

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