Smasher at golden age

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IPOH — Chan Wan Seong had to hang up his badminton dream to become a national shuttler in his younger days but kept his ambition alive until the sunset days of a successful banking career.

It was one generation ago when Chan, who represented the Perak state badminton team at 17, had to make the heartbreak decision to give up the sport for the sake of higher studies and a secure job to support his family.

Chan, who only retired last year from his position as executive vice-president of Ambank Group, never forgot his passion and it was not until he was past his fifties that he made his move and finally represented the country for senior badminton competitions in 2011.

It was a six-year journey to become a national shuttler as he has bagged many medals in various senior international badminton competitions, including the most recognised senior badminton tournaments, the BWF World Senior Badminton Championships. He was 57, at an age where many senior citizens have turned into couch potatoes.

“I grew up in the Kampar Children’s Welfare Home as my father passed away when I was 15 months. My mother who was pregnant and has five children had to send me and two other siblings to the home.

“My priority was to help the family as I grew up and I managed to get into the banking line after graduating from University of Malaya in 1977,” he told Malay Mail when contacted.

Chan said he has no regrets letting go of his young ambitions.

“I learned a lot from my mother Law Swee Kam, who is 94 now. She single-handedly raised the family and we developed great character and fighting spirit through her. This is what spurs me on to win many competitions at this age and I have achieved what I missed out in my younger days,” said Chan who took up the racket when he was 10.

“I stayed in the Waller Court flats in Ipoh and there weren’t many places for children to play except on a badminton court. So, we go there in the evening. That’s how I picked up the sport,” he said.

“I never quit playing badminton and I always had the ambition to play in international competitions. I got my break when I entered for several local veteran competitions and won many medals. Only after that I got the chance to represent the country for senior international competitions,” he said.

Chan has played in All-England Seniors Open, World Morning Cup, World Masters Games, World Chinese Badminton Championships and BWF World Senior Badminton Championships. He recently won the bronze medal in men’s singles 60+ in the 2017 BWF World Senior Badminton Championships held in Kochi, India last September.