SEA games 2015: Malaysia's medal machine

SEA games 2015: Malaysia's medal machine
VICTOR AND VANQUISHED: Malaysia’s Rachel Arnold (top, right) on her way to beating Indonesia’s Catur Yuliana.

When the South-east Asia (SEA) Games' squash events started on Tuesday, there were five gold medals on offer.

As of yesterday, four were already collected.

By whom, you ask? By Malaysia, of course.

The regional powerhouses have been unstoppable in obliterating all-comers at the Kallang Squash Centre.

Having already collected both the men and women's singles titles, they did an encore with the team titles yesterday.

With a raucous crowd spilling out of the arena, the composed Malaysians consolidated their grip on the sport.

While squash was making a first Games appearance in eight years, the Malaysians have monopolised the sport for 18 long years.

TARGET

Rachel Arnold, 19, who won the women's singles gold on Wednesday after beating compatriot V Gnanasigamani, sealed a second with the team yesterday, and said: "We had a target, and we've reached it.

"The fans almost derailed us today, because we felt the heat a little. They were really loud.

"But we pretty much emerged stronger from it. They say adversity brings out the best in some people.

"Personally, I'm satisfied with how I've done in this Games so far.

"I've sealed two golds already, so I'm really happy."

Yesterday, the women's team got the action started, with Gnanasigamani beating Indonesia's Yeni Rohmah 11-7, 11-8, 11-3.

Arnold then sealed it for Malaysia, edging out Catur Yuliana 11-8, 11-9 11-4 to complete the 2-0 victory.

It was another 2-0 triumph in the men's team final against Singapore.

Singapore's Samuel Kang tried his best, taking the first set 12-10.

But Addeen Bakhtiar claimed the next three - 11-8, 11-6, 11-9 - to secure a 3-1 victory.

The second match, however, was anti-climatic.

Vivian Rhamanan, widely acknowledged as Singapore's best player, was ripped apart by men's singles champion Sanjay Singh, who prevailed 11-4, 11-2, 11-2 in just 20 minutes.

A jubilant Sanjay, 21, said: "It feels amazing. To win two golds, just like Rachel, is a huge achievement.

"Furthermore, all of us here have never played in a SEA Games. It's our first time.

"So, for such a young team, to be able to accomplish this much and pick up from what other squash players did 18 years ago... the biggest achievement for us."

Rhamanan, in contrast, broke down when speaking to the media.

"We all know that Malaysia are the powerhouses at this Games," said the 29-year-old.

"We gave it everything we got, and I know I tried my best, but they were just at a different level. We trained so hard for this.

"But we still have the men's jumbo doubles to compete in (with teammate Marcus Phua), so there's still hope for us.

"That's squash. That's sport."

Singapore coach Ibrahim Gul, though, is satisfied with the team.

"Our medal count reads one silver, and four bronzes," said the 32-year-old. "Of course, we can't measure up to the Malaysians across the board, but we're doing all right.

"And honestly, we have a decent shot at gold in the men's jumbo doubles, so that's great.

"But for now, we've done well.

"If we keep building on what we have, the future is bright, and we can go head to head with the best."

haiqals@sph.com.sg

 


This article was first published on June 14, 2015.
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