But Sea Games de­fend­ing champ de­ter­mined to re­tain ti­tle

New Straits Times - - Sport -


AMILD an­kle sprain forced Sea Games de­fend­ing cham­pion Rachel Arnold out of the quar­ter-fi­nals at the World Dou­bles Cham­pi­onships in Manch­ester on Thurs­day.

But the in­jury is not ex­pected to pre­vent Rachel from at­tempt­ing to re­tain the women’s sin­gles gold medal at the Kuala Lumpur Sea Games later this month.

The na­ture of World No 52 Rachel’s in­jury was con­firmed by Squash Rac­quets As­so­ci­a­tion of Malaysia (SRAM) di­rec­tor of coach­ing Mej (rtd) S. Ma­niam, who is in Manch­ester with the team.

Hav­ing with­drawn from the last group stage match in the mixed dou­bles ear­lier in the day, Rachel and Ni­col David also con­ceded a walkover to Eng­land’s Ali­son Wa­ters and Jenny Dun­calf in the women’s dou­bles.

That ended Rachel’s hopes of re­tain­ing the women’s dou­bles bronze medal she won with her sis­ter Delia last year.

But squash Sea Games team man­ager Nik Razeen Daud felt it was more im­por­tant for Rachel, 21, to re­cover for the Sea Games which starts on Aug 19.

“From what I was told, Rachel’s in­jury is not se­ri­ous and she should be okay for the Sea Games,” said Nik Razeen as the na­tional Sea Games con­tin­gent checked into their of­fi­cial ho­tel in Kuala Lumpur yes­ter­day.

“There ap­peared lit­tle chance of win­ning a medal in Manch­ester and Rachel is very im­por­tant for us to achieve our seven-gold tar­get at the Sea Games.”

Rachel, run­ner-up to Ni­col at this year’s Na­tional Cham­pi­onships, will not only de­fend her sin­gles gold medal but will also pair up with Syafiq Ka­mal in the mixed dou­bles.

But in a bid to re­lieve the bur­den on her shoul­ders, Rachel will not play in the team event where na­tional ju­niors S. Si­vasan­gari and An­drea Lee will lead Malaysia’s de­fence of the ti­tle.

Nik Razeen said SRAM was forced into mak­ing one change to the women’s team af­ter na­tional ju­nior Zoe Foo an­nounced her re­tire­ment from the sport fol­low­ing the World Ju­nior Cham­pi­onships.

Naz­i­hah Ha­nis Razak will fill in for Zoe, who was only slated to play in the team event at the Sea Games.

“Zoe was to be our third-string play­ers in the team event but Naz­i­hah will now take her place,” added SRAM deputy pres­i­dent Nik Razeen.

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