The joys of being Malaysian come in many forms. It may not be common knowledge but those who do know me are well aware that I’m as Malaysian as one can be. The moment I fly into my hometown Penang, my parents’ first pit stop would be my regular char koay teow (our local fried flat rice noodles) stall before heading home. This is a routine that even the char koay teow lady knows, and ensures she has my order prepared when I get there – extra portions of all ingredients with lots of chilli!
This doesn’t carry on everyday of course, or I’d be hosting a ‘Food and Travel’ programme instead, looking a size or two bigger. During my time in Malaysia, I’m surrounded by the tastiest cuisine available and it can sometimes be difficult to settle for just a sandwich in this food haven. I continuously rave to everyone I meet all over the world about the sumptuous food we have in Malaysia. In fact, food becomes my main topic of discussion when I meet new people. Sometimes they wonder if I really do play squash for a living!
Apart from the simple luxuries of indulgence, I’ve been shown a lot of appreciation by the general public in Malaysia as a successful sportsperson in the world scene. I find this hard to believe sometimes because I am merely doing what I love and achieving my own goals along the way. Every Malaysian who comes up to me, genuinely shows their appreciation towards my achievements. Not many squash players elsewhere may get that same positive assurance and support. This is truly unique in Malaysia and I’m slowly coming to terms with it. I hope that someday, I can find ways to give back to the Malaysian community because they have played a huge role in raising the profile of squash within the country.
Our country may be considerably small compared to other Asian countries, but I’m proud to have been brought up in a loving family within the Malaysian community that emphasises the basic principles of respecting and honouring our elders. While I have been given the freedom to strive towards my dreams, it involves a lot of hardwork and dedication to excel. Growing up in a multi-cultural surrounding has given me good exposure to take forth, preparing me for what the world has in store as I travel, and to understand the dynamics of different cultures while exploring the beauty of what every nation has to offer.
Staying abroad and traveling all over the world has not changed the fact that I sound totally Malaysian. If anyone ever attempted to take the Malaysian out of me, they would have a difficult time doing so! Hearing me speak amongst my family and friends would highlight that distinct Malaysian accent, which is bound to stay in my system for a very long time lah.
My country is very close to my heart and the Malaysian people give me reason to keep striving for excellence and to achieve my ultimate potential. Having my country behind me through this journey gives me a sense of belonging and there is nothing more I could ask for.
Thank you everyone, for journeying with me through this phase of my career that is laced with ups and downs. A lot more is in store for me as I move forward in my life; facing new experiences and challenges. Get ready for more exciting times to come!