Hockey legend Liew Khiam Hon overcame epilepsy to become a star

09 Dec 2019 / 13:55 H.

PETALING JAYA: Being diagnosed with epilepsy at a young age did not stop Liew Khiam Hon from realising his dream of representing the nation in hockey.

“I was sick with epilepsy since young and I would be lying if I said I wasn’t scared of having the fits,” said Liew, 67.

He was part of the legendary hockey team which played in the 1975 men’s hockey World Cup, hosted by Malaysia – remembered as the one where Malaysia secured fourth place, beating giants like Holland in the process.

The Penang-born Liew said he was more of a football player in his younger days.

“I remember I was shocked at how fluid I was with the hockey stick when I played my first game at my workplace in Prai. I was working for the National Electricity Board (now known as Tenaga Nasional Bhd) then.

“I remember they wanted me to play football at first but later they said it would be better if I move into hockey as I was much better at it apparently,“ Liew told theSun after receiving his membership card from the National Athletic Welfare Foundation (Yakeb).

Yakeb membership entitles members to Class-2 ward facilities at government hospitals and medical fee exemption, among others. Liew said from then on, it was hockey for him.

He played alongside Wong Choon Hin, who was the team captain, forward Avtar Singh Gill, and others under the then Malaysian Hockey Federation led by “the father of Malaysian hockey” – the late Sultan Azlan Shah.

Liew said the Sultan was a humble person and often mingled with the players easily.

“He would stop and talk to me when he passes by sometimes. It was more than you can expect as he was in a very high post at the time.

“I remember seeing him from a distance at a mall after I retired from hockey. I felt shy to approach him but he saw me and came over to speak with me,“ Liew said.

On his most memorable moment, Liew said it was one that was scary and always etched in his mind.

“I was walking home one day, and this black dog kept following me. When I finally turned back and looked at it, it collapsed into a fit. Its eyes were rolling and foam started coming out of its mouth. That was a reminder for me of my own condition. I realised then that health is bigger than wealth,” said Liew.

Nowadays, Liew spends time with his wife and visits the needy in his housing area and also helps with their church’s physiotherapy sessions.

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