It's good that Haresh Deol of the Malay Mail took the trouble to pay tribute to former javelin thrower Ballang Lasung.
MM carried this yesterday
BALLANG LASUNG, one of Sarawak's better loved sportsman during the heyday
of Malaysian athletics in the 1960s and 70s died yesterday, aged 54.
The passing of the former national javelin thrower comes as a shock.
As condolences pour in, one man who best remembers Ballang is none
other than his `senior' Datuk Nashatar Singh.
"Ballang was an exceptional athlete," said Nashatar, a six-time SEA
Games gold medallist.
"He performed well despite his small frame and off the field he was an
honest and loveable athlete.
"The younger generation may not remember him, but his passing is
certainly a loss to the sports-loving fraternity."
An ethnic Lun Bawang from Long Semadoh, Lawas, Ballang had no problems
continuing Malaysia's dominance in the region as he won four consecutive
SEA Games gold medals - 1977 (KL Games), 1979 (Jakarta), 1981 (Manila)
and 1983 (Singapore).
Hailing from an era when athletes were forced to fend for themselves,
Ballang, who was easily identified by his mop-like hairstyle, joined the
ranks of other Sarawakian greats including the 1964 Tokyo Olympian
hurdler Kuda Ditta, footballer Terrence Janting and athlete Salleh Wahab.
Olympic Council of Malaysia secretary Datuk Sieh Kok Chi extended his
sympathies to the Lasung family.
"I'm saddened. I hope he was well taken care of to the end."
National Sports Council director general Datuk Zolkples Embong said:
"The younger generation do not know how many sacrifices Ballang and his
teammates made when they were forced to take out their own money and
train on their own.
"Yet these determined athletes emerged as champions."
Ballang suffered from Multiple System Atrophy, a degenerative
neurological disorder, since 2001.
As his condition deteriorated, the petite but muscular athlete was
confined to a wheelchair.
He was diagnosed with Multiple System Atrophy in 2003 when he was
teaching physical education at the Batu Lintang Teachers' College in
Ballang died at the Sarawak Hospital at 8.45am yesterday. His funeral
will be on Friday.
He is survived by wife Sussana Liew who said her husband had never
complained about his sickness and was cheerful to the last. They have a
daughter, Sarah, and, son, Brian.