On This Day: Underdogs Malaya Become Inaugural Thomas Cup Champs

The first ever Thomas Cup in 1949 came about at a time when Malaya – Malaysia’s name before 1963 – were a relative unknown in world badminton.

Never mind that the Men’s World Team Badminton Championships – brainchild of the first International Badminton Federation (now BWF) president Sir George Thomas – started as a three-team inter-zone finals, Malaya were seen as the easiest to beat.

But that was a task Denmark – despite getting a bye straight into the final in Preston, England – could not accomplish.

Malaya, the sole Pacific Zone challengers who did not go through a qualifying round like their European and Pan American rivals, had already punched above their weight in beating the United States 6-3 in their semifinal duel just three days earlier in Glasgow, Scotland.

The Danes were ripped apart 8-1 in the nine-match final held over two days by a side led by the irrepressible Ooi Teik Hock, who stepped up to the plate following an injury to the team’s undisputed star man Wong Peng Soon.

At the first edition, teams were required to play five singles and four doubles matches – Ooi featured in four of them, winning all.

Non-playing captain Lim Chuan Geok receiving the trophy from Sir George Thomas.

After Law Teik Hock had swept Danish champion Jorn Skaarup aside in the first singles, Ooi stepped up to defeat Mogens Felsby to give Malaya a 2-0 lead.

The Danes found no answer until the fifth match when Felsby beat Law in the third singles to give them a glimmer of hope.

But normal service quickly resumed, with Malaya taking the following four matches in comprehensive fashion. Ooi delivered the winning point in the very next clash against Skaarup.

Fittingly, it was him who played in the ninth match – with doubles partner Teoh Seng Khoon – and gave Malaya their final point.

The then 28-year-old had also earlier combined with Teoh in the first doubles to defeat Skaarup/Preben Dabelsteen.

Malaya’s dominant performance was unforeseen, but nevertheless impressive. It prompted the Preston crowd to rise to their feet to accord the first ever Thomas Cup winners a standing ovation.

After two days of action, team manager and non-playing skipper Lim Chuan Geok finally had the honour of being the first man to receive the newly minted silverware from Sir George himself.

And on that memorable 26th day of February, “The Little Men from the Far East” – as they were dubbed by the British press – stood the tallest on the podium.

Malaya went on to win the following two Thomas Cups in 1952 and 1955.

They also became champions twice more, in 1967 and 1992, as the post-independence Malaysia.

But the once powerful Southeast Asian giants of the game are still waiting for their first title since lifting the hallowed trophy on home soil in 1992.

Thomas & Uber Cup News

TUC 2020 Postponed; Denmark Open to Proceed

TUC 2020 Postponed; Denmark Open to Proceed

15 September 2020
Update on TOTAL BWF Thomas and Uber Cup Finals 2020

Update on TOTAL BWF Thomas and Uber Cup Finals 2020

12 September 2020
Herbert Scheele’s Thomas Cup Story

Herbert Scheele’s Thomas Cup Story

3 September 2020
BWF Ready for the Return to International Badminton

BWF Ready for the Return to International Badminton

28 August 2020
BWF Announces Adjusted Tournament Calendar for 2020

BWF Announces Adjusted Tournament Calendar for 2020

27 August 2020
TOTAL BWF Thomas & Uber Cup Finals 2020 Draw

TOTAL BWF Thomas & Uber Cup Finals 2020 Draw

3 August 2020
On This Day: China Lift Thomas Cup at First Time of Asking

On This Day: China Lift Thomas Cup at First Time of Asking

21 May 2020
Flashback: TUC 2018 – China’s Young Guns Come Good

Flashback: TUC 2018 – China’s Young Guns Come Good

21 May 2020
Flashback: TUC 2018 – Japan’s Well-Earned Triumph

Flashback: TUC 2018 – Japan’s Well-Earned Triumph

18 May 2020
New Dates for TOTAL BWF Thomas and Uber Finals 2020

New Dates for TOTAL BWF Thomas and Uber Finals 2020

29 April 2020
Update on TOTAL BWF Thomas and Uber Cup Finals 2020

Update on TOTAL BWF Thomas and Uber Cup Finals 2020

7 April 2020
Conrad-Petersen to Bid Adieu After Thomas Cup

Conrad-Petersen to Bid Adieu After Thomas Cup

27 March 2020
TOTAL BWF Thomas and Uber Cup Finals 2020 Postponed

TOTAL BWF Thomas and Uber Cup Finals 2020 Postponed

20 March 2020
On This Day: USA Ace First Ever Uber Cup Final

On This Day: USA Ace First Ever Uber Cup Final

18 March 2020
French Stint Aids Honderich & Tsai

French Stint Aids Honderich & Tsai

5 March 2020
Indonesia, Japan Top-Seeded for TUC

Indonesia, Japan Top-Seeded for TUC

4 March 2020
Russia’s TUC Withdrawal Opens Door for Germany, Spain

Russia’s TUC Withdrawal Opens Door for Germany, Spain

2 March 2020
Qi Xuefei Inspired by ‘Role Model’ Pi Hongyan

Qi Xuefei Inspired by ‘Role Model’ Pi Hongyan

29 February 2020
Flashback: Unfancied Mexicans Defy Expectations, Qualify for First Thomas Cup

Flashback: Unfancied Mexicans Defy Expectations, Qualify for First Thomas Cup

23 February 2020
TUC 2020 Lineup is Complete!

TUC 2020 Lineup is Complete!

20 February 2020
Flawless Denmark Issue Rivals Stark Warning

Flawless Denmark Issue Rivals Stark Warning

17 February 2020
On This Day: Betty Uber Wins 50th Straight International

On This Day: Betty Uber Wins 50th Straight International

14 February 2020
Update on Badminton Asia Team Championships 2020

Update on Badminton Asia Team Championships 2020

11 February 2020
Aarhus Awaits the World

Aarhus Awaits the World

6 February 2020
The Legacy of Frank Peard, First Thomas Cupper

The Legacy of Frank Peard, First Thomas Cupper

7 October 2019
Flashback: Vittinghus Heroics Win Thomas Cup for Denmark

Flashback: Vittinghus Heroics Win Thomas Cup for Denmark

5 September 2019
Generational Shift Will Be Visible in Aarhus

Generational Shift Will Be Visible in Aarhus

6 August 2019
PARTNERS