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IMAGES: Buses carrying SEA Games athletes involved in accident

Screen Shot 2017-08-21 at 3.28.39 PM

Two buses carrying 28 SEA Games athletes were involved in a collision en route to the KL Sports City in Bukit Jalil, earlier today.

The incident occurred this morning, when a motorcycle swerved in front of one of the buses, forcing the driver to hit the brakes suddenly. Unfortunately, the second bus wasn’t able to brake in time and ended up crashing into the first bus from the back.

Photo Credit: Twitter

All the athletes (13 from Thailand, 10 from Myanmar and 5 from the Philippines) were then ferried to the venue via replacement buses.

As a result of the unfortunate incident, Malaysia Organising Committee (MASOC) officially postponed all squash fixtures that were slated to take place in the morning.

Photo Credit: Twitter

“All matches this morning have been suspended. An urgent Team Managers’ meeting is being convened at 2.00 PM to discuss the way forward and agree on a revised competition schedule. It is expected that matches that do not involve any affected athletes will move proceed, with all Team Managers agreement, starting from 3.00 PM today,” MASOC Sports & Technical Committee’s Dato’ Low Beng Choo said, via a statement.

 

Squash

Malaysia decimate England to make the World Junior Squash Championship finals

Malaysia’s junior squash team have sailed into the 2017 WSF World Junior Squash Championship final after wrecking England earlier today.

The sweet victory was seized was Malaysia’s Aifa Azman outclassed England’s Jasmine Hutton 6-11, 12-10, 12-10, 11-6 in Tauranga, New Zealand.

Malaysia’s 18-year-old S. Sivasangari kept the winning momentum going as she wrecked her opponent Lucy Turmel in a straight 3-0 win. S. Sivasangari won 11-8, 11-8, 11-4.

Malaysia will be taking on Egypt in the finals tomorrow.

 

More to come… 

Squash

Nicol David makes it to final 4 at the 2017 World Games in Poland

Malaysia’s Nicol David has moved one step closer to snapping up her fourth successive gold medal as she successfully cruised into the final four at the  2017 World Games in Wroclaw, Poland.

Nicol David progressed to the semi-finals after she outclassed Belgium’s Nele Gilis 11-9, 12-10 and 11-7 to win in the quarter-finals.

The Penangite will be meeting Hong Kong’s Joey Chan in the semi-finals, who is set to give Nicol stiff competition.

Joey Chan is fresh from victory as she has just defeated France’s Coline Aumard 7-11, 5-11, 11-1, 11-4 and 11-8 in a five-set, nerve wrecking match.

According to Bernama, this will be Nicol’s fourth attempt at a gold medal after she won the last three editions of the world’s in Duisburg, Germany (2005), Kaohsiung, Taiwan (2009) and Cali, Colombia in 2013.

More to come… 

Squash

51 pairs to compete in World Doubles Championship, including Malaysia

The fifth edition of the World Doubles Championship will kick off on the 1st August this year in Manchester.

A total of 12 countries will be participating in the tournament, including Malaysia. Team Malaysia will be led by none other than our very own squash queen, Datuk Nicol David.

The World Doubles Championship will feature men’s doubles, women’s doubles, and mixed doubles event.

“A record 51 pairs will participate — 17 men’s, 21 mixed and 13 women’s — representing Australia, Canada, Colombia, England, India, Malaysia, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Scotland, South Africa and Wales.” a statement on the World Squash Federation (WSF) website read.

“Pairing details will be confirmed in July after the deadline for the final nominations, but 13 players from the current men’s and women’s top 20 ranking lists are expected to compete.”

“England likely to be led by Laura Massaro, James Willstrop, Alison Waters, Daryl Selby and Sarah-Jane Perry, while Wales have Tesni Evans and Scotland have Alan Clyne as probable spearheads,” the statement read.

According to the Squash Racquet Association of Malaysia (SRAM), Nicol David will we pairing with Rachel Arnold in the women’s event.

Mohd Nafiizwan Adnan will be partnering with Ivan Yuen, while Muhammad Syafiq Kamal will be partnering Ng Eain Yow in the men’s doubles event.

The World Doubles Championships will be held at the National Squash Centre in Manchester, from 1st of August until 5th of August.

Squash

#2017SEAGames: Mohd Syafiq will go all out to contribute gold in squash

The national squash team are optimistic that they can rake in a good number of medals at the upcoming 2017 Kuala Lumpur SEA games.

With names like Mohammad Syafiq Mohd Kamal, Eain Yow, S Sivasangari, and Rachel Arnold, we have a solid squad battling it out in home soil.

Squash prodigy Mohammad Syafiq Mohd Kamal has assured sports fans that his team will go all out to make sure Malaysia doesn’t settle for anything less than gold at the 2017 SEA Games.

The world No 103 will be making his way to Ireland on 9th of April to play in a professional tournament to prepare himself for the SEA games and to meliorate his world ranking.

“If every one of us give our best and stay focused during the games, I think it’s possible to win gold in all the events.” Mohammad Syafiq told Harian Metro.

However, he urged his fellow squash mates not to underestimate their opponents.

“Countries like Singapore and the Philippines have some really good players, and I think they will give us a good challenge.” he added.

In total, Malaysia bagged four gold medals and four silver medals in squash during the 2015 SEA Games in Singapore.

Mohammad Syafiq will be participating in the doubles category with his partner and another squash ace, Ng Eain Yow.

Squash

#SEAGames: Allan Soyza to lead Singapore’s squash team against Malaysia

It’s Malaysia v Singapore 

The love-hate relationship between Malaysia – Singapore is so gripping that Taylor Swift could even write a song about it. From food to political drama, we’re constantly trying to up one the other.

Things just got more dramatic as Malaysia’s squash team learned that former Malaysian squash coach, Allan Soyza, will be leading the Singapore squash team against them.

Allan Soyza was a player and coach with SRAM (Squash Racquets Association of Malaysia) since 1992. After 22 years of service, he decided to end his stint with SRAM in March 2015.

Soyza was also a national squash player from 1992-1998. He also used to run the Penang Squash Academy with his brother Aaron Soyza, who is coach to national squash player Low Wee Wern.

Allan Soyza joins Singapore

In January 2017, the Singapore Squash Rackets Association (SSRA) hired Allan Soyza as their new technical director. Soyza signed a two-year contract with SSRA, and he will work with three national coaches within the organization.

However, Malaysia’s squash team is not intimidated by SSRA’s new signing, they are confident that they can still ace the 2017 Kuala Lumpur SEA Games and defend their gold medals.

We’re not intimidated! 

The national squash team’s manager, Nik Razeen A Daud said Soyza’s signing should be seen as a challenge to encourage the team to perform better.

“If we look back at the last SEA Games in Singapore, we bagged four gold medals and I believe our squash players who are participating in this year’s SEA Games can repeat that success.” Nik Razeen said at a press conference.

“Allan Soyza’s presence will be quite a challenge because he already knows Malaysia’s strategy. But I think we have what it takes to beat Singapore.”

Apart from that, Nik Razeen added that that the squash management has done everything they can in terms of preparations, from giving athletes international exposure and preparing them for international tournaments. Good luck, team Malaysia!

Squash

PSA 2017: Nicol David vs Nour El Sherbini showdown?

Malaysia’s squash queen Nicol Ann David is still gushing over the trophy she won in Colombia, as seen on her official Twitter account @NicolDavid.

Nicol David ended her 18-month title drought to secure her most recent PSA World Tour title. The 33-year-old won the inaugural Ciudad de Floridablanca Women’s Squash Open title in Colombia last week.

PSA Women’s World Squash Championships is back!

Fresh from her victory, Nicol David will now gear up for the British Open which will take place in Hull from the 19th of March until 26th of March.

Right after that, she will be in action at the 2017 PSA Women’s World Squash Championships, which will be held at the Egyptian Red Sea Resort of El Gouna in Egypt from 5th of April until 14th of April.

Nicol has also received a favourable draw for the tournament, she will be going up against India’s Dipika Pllikal Karthik in the opening round. The match will take place on the 7th of April in El Gouna, Egypt.

Photo: Squashsite

If she makes it through, she could face one of her tough rivals, Nour El Tayeb of Egypt in the second round.

Nicol v El Sherbini? Yes please. 

But the real challenge for the eight-time world champion will come from her arch-rival and top seed Nour El-Sherbini, also from Egypt.

Nour El Sherbini, who won the tournament last year and became the youngest ever squash player to do so, will be putting up a tough fight to defend her title. Nicol has not beaten Nour El Sherbini in their last two meetings, so it is bound to be an action-packed fixture.

Nicol has won the world title eight times; in 2005, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2014, and we hope she wins again this year!

Squash

“It feels great to win again” – Nicol David after 14-month title drought

nicols

When you’re a world champion and people are used to watching you win and bringing home trophies, things can get really hard when you hit a plateau.

To break through that and go back to your winning ways can be even more challenging, but  once you make it happen, your win becomes much more meaningful.

Such was the case of Malaysian squash queen, Nicol David, who ended her 14-month title drought to secure her PSA World Tour title. Nicol David won the inaugural Ciudad de Floridablanca Women’s Squash Open title in Colombia yesterday.

Nicol David has been under scrutiny as she had not won any major title since the Hong Kong Open in December 2015. The world number 1 also dropped to number 7 in rankings as she struggled to climb back on top.

Nicol David finally gained her winning momentum back as she secured a 11-3, 11-4, 11-8 victory over her opponent Olivia Blatchford in 70 minutes.

“It feels great to win a tournament again.” Nicol told PSA (Professional Squash Association).

“It’s been quite a while and I think this is really special to have my first title here in Floridablanca. It’s going to have a special place in my heart.” she added.

“Thank you so much to the people in Floridablanca for hosting us here at the El Santisimo, it’s been such a special week for all of us girls here.” the Penangite said.

Nicol David will now gear up for the British Open which will take place in Hull from the 19th of March until 26th of March.
Squash

Wee Wern opens up about squash career, dealing with injuries and battling sexism

When nine-year old Low Wee Wern picked up the squash racquet for the first time, little did she know that her life was about to change forever.

What started out as a casual weekend practice progressed into an intense 6-days-a-week training, and before she knew it she was representing her home state Penang and Malaysia in various tournaments and championships, both local and international, all before she was even 12.

She decided to take the leap of faith and go down the professional route at 17. With utter determination and handwork, she rose to stardom and was raking in medals, awards and recognitions.

As fate would have it, a tear in her anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) back in April last year forced her to take a one-year hiatus. She has to undergo at least three surgeries before she could get back into action, but she will not let that dampen her spirit.

We recently caught up with 26-year old who is in KL for her rehabilitation period, and she talks about her surgery, her relationship with coach Aaron Soyza, and struggles as a female athlete.

FO: Wee Wern, first of all, tell us about your ACL injury. What happened? How has the entire surgery and recovery process been for you?

To be honest, I never thought I was ever going to need any surgery, but now I need three! It’s one of those things where you’re just like, “Ah, it’s not going to happen to me,” or “I’m not going to need surgery,”. I’m fairly fit and strong, I train well, so it was quite frustrating.

I had to undergo surgery for my anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), because it just went missing. I have no clue where my ACL went. Just before I was supposed to fly to France for a championship, I had to do a routine MRI. I had just gotten back after winning a tournament, I was up to 23rd in the world, came back, did the MRI, and the surgeon could not find the ACL. Basically, I played for months without the ACL. And I won tournaments without the ACL.

So I had to fly to London for surgery. I’ve had two ops so far, the third one will be in April. I was on crutches just a few weeks back, and it was really tough. I couldn’t go shopping, I could push a shopping cart, I couldn’t carry bags. In fact, when I was in my apartment, I made coffee, and I couldn’t even get it to the couch, because both my hands were on the crutches. But I won’t give up, I’ll be back.

FO: Let’s go back in time for a bit. Could you briefly explain the path you’ve been on since you were a kid. Where and how did you start playing?

I started squash when I was eight, but it more like a weekend activity. My parents divorced when I was eight, so my mom wanted me to do something on the weekends. I had two options, tennis or squash, and well, being a Malaysian, tennis wasn’t the best option, you know, because of the weather and etc, so I picked squash. But to be honest, I had no clue what it was!

FO: Did you know that squash was going to be huge part of your life?

No, I wasn’t one of those kids who knew what they wanted to be when they were just eight or nine. I never had this one thing in mind, and I didn’t even know I was going to venture into sports.


FO: How did you break into the national scene and when did you make it big internationally?

I started representing Penang and Malaysia at the age of 11, playing in tournaments and championships. It was a gradual process, from once a week, I started training twice a week, and before I knew it I was training up to six days a week, and I was only 10. My first coach was actually Lianne David, who is Nicol’s sister!

When I was 12, I moved on to Aaron Soyza, who has been my coach ever since. I decided to go pro at 17.

FO: You’ve been training with Aaron for a long, long time. Tell us about your journey and relationship with him.

Well, not many people have trained with the same coach their whole lives. I’m one of the very very few who stayed on with the same coach since I was 12, until now.

Aaron used to pick me up from school to go to the squash court, because I had no other means of transportation. So he’d pick me up, on a daily basis, take me to the squash court, and train me.

That’s why whenever people ask me, “you’re already injured, why don’t you just give up,” and I’m like, it’s not just about me anymore. It’s about all the sacrifices my mom has made, it’s Aaron’s career on the line, so I can’t just walk away.

Especially for Aaron, he has never coached a professional player in his life. People told him he couldn’t do it, people told me he wasn’t good enough, no one believed that a local coach could train a professional athlete. But hey, look where I am today!

So when I was 17, we took the plunge together, I decided to go pro, with him. He’s incredible as a coach. He trains me twice every day, goes to the gym at 9 am with me, runs with me, does the weights with me. Whether it’s a Saturday, Sunday, or even public holidays, he’s always there for me.

FO: What has been the best part about training with Aaron Soyza?

The most incredible part about this is that I’m the only locally-trained athlete who has made it to the top 10 ranking in the world!

FO: You had to turn down prestigious universities to go pro in squash. Was your mom okay with you forgoing your studies for squash?

I’m not from a well-to-do family, my mom was even willing to mortgage the house so I can go study overseas. But at that point, I felt like it will be better for me to concentrate on squash. I felt like it would be more productive to play squash for next 4 years, compared to going to a college and getting a degree.

Not saying that education is not important, it is, but at that time, the right choice for me was squash.

FO: Your achievements are absolutely astounding, but what are the sort of sacrifices you had to make to ensure it all worked out?

As an athlete, you don’t have much of a social life. Like I said, at the age of 10 I was already training six days a week, so after school I’d head straight to the squash court for training. And then I’d do my homework while waiting for my mom to pick me up. There’s no going out with friends, movies, birthdays.

I’ve also always been a goal-oriented person. Even now when I’m out with my friends, I’m back by 11 pm so I can get enough rest and focus on my training sessions the next day.

FO: Was it always tricky for you, trying to break into the sports industry as a female?

In squash, it’s actually not that bad because Nicol David has been leading the sport. She’s been the face of squash for a very long time. In fact, in Malaysia, I think women are given more priority than men, but only in squash.

The tricky part is, for men, working out and going to the gym twice a day is normal. But when I tell people I go to gym twice a day, they’re like “Are you serious? You go to the gym TWICE A DAY?” So it’s those kinds of things.

wee wernnn

FO: What are the examples of discrimination you faced as a female athlete?

The discrimination we face is mostly in terms of prize money. It’s a cause that we (female squash players) have been fighting for a very long time. But, Malaysia is actually better off than most countries. Only the United States have done something about it – they recently made a pledge to pay female athletes as much as they pay male athletes. For example, at some world championships, the prize money for men would be USD 300,000 but for women, it’ll only be USD 100,000.

Another thing is, we always get asked when we’re getting married. There’s still that idea that as a woman, you’re not complete until you settle down, get married and have kids.

FO: What are the steps you’ve taken to combat these forms of sexism?

Mostly by deciding not to play in the tournament, unless they offer equal prize money for both male and female categories. I think giving sports more coverage can also help to make it a norm for people to allow their daughters to get into sports.

FO: Do you think sexism continues to plague the industry today? Perhaps in the form of wage-gap? Or disproportionate endorsement figures from big brands?

I think when it comes to endorsements and sponsorships, it’s not a big thing in Malaysia, be it for male or female athletes. This is something that the whole of Malaysia could work on. Wage problems, I wouldn’t say it depends on male or female, but rather the sport itself.  Some sports organisations have more money than others, so they can pay their athletes better.

FO: Do you have any bizarre pre-game ritual?

I need to have coffee two hours before a major game. Some people can’t, but I love it.

FO: Tell us something that most people don’t know about you.

I’ve had this pillow since I was a baby, and I never leave home without it! I just can’t, even if it’s a super-short trip, I’ll still bring it with me.

Good luck Wee Wern, wishing you a speedy recovery and hope you come back stronger than ever!

Squash

Nicol David suffers quarter-final exit at Tournament of Champions

World squash queen Nicol David has bid an early goodbye to the Tournaments of Champions (TOC) after she crashed out of the quarterfinals yesterday.

The Tournaments of Champions is happening in Grand Central Terminal, New York from January 12 until January 19.

Just a few days back, Malaysians rejoiced as Nicol, currently world number five, successfully eased into the second round of TOC. Nicol defeated her opponent, Hong Kong’s Annie Au in 11-7, 11-6 and 11-7 in 30 minutes.

However, that was not meant to last. Yesterday, the squash queen yielded to world number one, Nour El Sherbini of Egypt. El Sherbini booked her spot in the semifinals after defeating Nicol three times 11-5, 5-11, 11-6, 13-15, 11-8 in five set match.

Nicol has faced Nour El Sherbini twice prior to this meeting; once back in 2014 U.S Open, where she won 11-5, 12-10, 12-10 in a three series match; and once in 2012 British Open, where she won 11-6, 11-6, 11-6.