Saturday, August 11, 2012

The van Huizen Olympic flame...

THE family Olympic torch was first lit by his father in Tokyo  1964, and Stephen van Huizen went on savour his own  moment in Los Angeles 1984 to continue the legacy.
     “My father (Lawrence Van Huizen) played in the 1964  Olympics and it inspired me to follow his footsteps. As he  always said ‘once and Olympian, always an Olympian’,” said  Stephen.
    And Stephen still leads the strict life of a an athlete, even  after he went on to coach the Malaysian hockey team in  Sydney 2000.
    “It is a totally different feeling when one plays or coaches in  the Olympics. It opens the mind to a different perspective and  the moment is to savour for life. Nobody can take the  Olympian feeling out of you for life,” said Stephen.
   His moment as a player was being in the stadium watching  Carl Lewis winning the 100m sprints clocking 9.99s in Los  Angeles, and then as a coach, he got a photo opportunity with  Mohamed Ali at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics Games Village.
   Stephen played and coached hockey at every level, con tinuing the traditions of the Van Huizen hockey pedigree.
    He was captain of the 1979 Junior World Cup in Paris, he  played for Malaysia in the 1982 and 1986 Asian Games, and  1984 Olympics and 1982 World Cup. He reached the pinnacle  of his playing career by being Captain of the team to the 86  Asian Games.
    As a coach, he was assistant to Terry Walsh at the 1992  Barcelona Olympics, to Volker Knapp at the 1996 Atlanta  Olympics and 1998 World Cup and to Paul Lissek in the 1998  Commonwealth Games and 2002 World Cup.
    He was the national coach for the 1998 Asian Games and  2000 Sydney Olympics.
     Today, he is glued to the television after working hours: “Of  course I watched hockey a lot, but this time, I also surprised  myself by being an avid fan of archery and beach volleyball.
    “Archery was  never a personal favourite, until I saw how  difficult it was to hit the bull and win by one arrow. The gold  medallists had nerves of steel and this impressed me.
    “Beach volleyball is a crowd favourite in London, and one  needs to be very fit to be able to lay their hands on the  Olympic gold medal,” said Stephen.

   Stephen scored two penalty stroke goals in the shoot-out  against United States for the 11-12th position. The match had  ended 3-3 and went to 10 strokes and Malaysia finally won 9- 8.
   Stephen is featured in NSTP’s ‘Honouring Our Olympians - - A Visual Tribute’ ongoing exhibition at Bangsar Shopping  Centre.