After playing all my WISPA events for this year, I was finally down to the last major Games for the year—the Asian Games in Guangzhou, China.
Some say that the Asian Games Athletes’ Village was a replica of the one at the Beijing Olympics and we had the luxury of experiencing this in Guangzhou. The Competition venue was within the surroundings of the Games Village and that made travelling a lot easier for us squash players. I have never seen these art-form buildings being built specially for an event and we got to enjoy the facilities as well.
The Malaysian contingent got started on other events before our squash team began. The individual event was represented by the top 2 players of each country and this year was the first time the Asian Games introduced the team event too.
Round 1 with Park Eun Ok of Korea
Park Eun Ok has been to many Asian tournaments and we’ve met a number of times. This time she really brought her best game out on court. We exchanged some long rallies throughout the match and at the end of the 3rd game, she started making some mistakes and I won 3-0.
Quarter finals with Dipika Pallikal of India
Playing Dipika Pallikal is never easy especially with some of her deceptive shot plays and boasts that she brings into her game. It can be difficult to anticipate thus I was working hard to take those away from her. There were moments when I just got a roll with my own game and she began to hit the tin a little bit more at the end. It was a 3-1 win but it definitely felt longer.
Semi finals with Low Wee Wern of Malaysia
After having an amazing comeback being down 2-0 with Joshna Chinappa, Low Wee Wern came into the semis, probably not completely hundred percent on court. As she’s moved up the rankings, I still expected her to keep those rallies in play and I had to force the pressure on her when I could. The first game was close but in the second and third games, she stepped back slightly and I took the opportunities at the right time to win 3-0.
Finals with Annie Au of Hong Kong
Annie Au is a feisty young player pushing a lot of the top players in the circuit currently. This was her first Asian Games finals and she wanted it badly. Throughout the match, there was no particular time she ever let up. She was firing shots everywhere at any time she could put her racket onto the ball early enough. The intensity was high and we both played well, creating the hype with the exuberant atmosphere at the glass court. When we equalled at 1-1 in games, I needed to step up my play and take it on. I won 3-1 but was very pleased to win the Gold.
On to the Team Event
The team event was straight after the individuals and we got going right away. We beat Japan and Korea in our pool matches to make our crossover semi finals match against India.
Semis against India
In the match against India, we had our full team with me at number 1, Low Wee Wern at number 2 and Delia Arnold at number 3. Unfortunately, Dipika hurt her leg in the pool matches and they had to rest her when we played them. We won 2-0 with Wee Wern beating Anaka Alankamony 3-0 and I beat Joshna 3-0. Once there’s a clear 2-0 win, the third player doesn’t have to play.
Finals against Hong Kong
It was Hong Kong in the finals and Wee Wern was up first against Rebecca Chiu. It was nerve wrecking because I hardly play team tournaments and watching teammates play is the hardest part. The match was really close and it could have gone either way but Wee Wern stood her ground to win that first point for Malaysia. I had to face Annie again and I was fired up after Wee Wern’s win that I went full speed ahead til I won 3-0. We were all overjoyed with this victory and it was even more special as we clinched the 9th Gold for the Malaysian Contingent.
The other results from the guys’ matches—Mohd Azlan Iskandar got the Individual Gold and Ong Beng Hee got the Bronze while the Men’s team got the Silver after losing to Pakistan in the finals.
The Asian Games was a success overall and the team gave it their best to do well in the Games. Thanks team for a fantastic result.
The Women’s World Teams was straight after and reports will follow. Another team experience!
Some video interviews with Nicol by SwitchUp.tv (thestaronline)