Sanjay Singh Chal (front) in a file photo. Given a clean bill of health, he will be going all out to win a spot in the Asian and Commonwealth Games teams.
PETALING JAYA: Two months ago, 19-year-old squash player Sanjay Singh Chal found himself at the crossroads of his fledgling career after being told he had an enlarged heart, which led to irregular heartbeats.
It was a cause for concern as heart attacks among young sportsmen are no longer a rarity and Sanjay was told to take some time out.
There have been many such cases, including that of England’s 18-year-old junior squash player Harry Faulkner, who collapsed and died during a match in February last year and 25-year-old Malaysian basketball player Jackie Ng, who also died from heart failure during a match last year.
Fortunately for Sanjay, after sufficient rest, further tests revealed that that he was well and healthy and cleared to carry on with his regular routines.
The young Sarawakian made a return last month and enjoyed a fine run into the quarter-finals of the NSC Series No. 2, his first tournament of the year, before losing to Hong Kong’s Yip Tsz Fung.
Now Sanjay, who turns 20 on April 23, believes that he is ready to go all out once more, especially with places in the Commonwealth Games and Asian Games teams at stake.
“I first learned of my heart problem early in January and I was well on the recovery path towards the end of February,” explained Sanjay.
“Right now, I’ve been cleared to train and compete by the National Sports Institute (NSI) and the UMMC (University Malaya Medical Centre) ... and I couldn’t be happier.
“My main target for the year has always been to get into the Commonwealth and Asian Games squads, and that has not changed. In fact, I’m fired up to make the team because it means a great deal to me.”
Sanjay is likely to battle it out with the likes of Ivan Yuen, Mohd Addeen Idrakie, Mohd Hannan Tarmidi, Gurshan Singh and Mohd Syafiq Kamal for two of the four slots available. The first two slots have been taken up by national No. 1 Ong Beng Hee and No. 2 Mohd Nafiizwan Adnan.
Sanjay also enjoyed an added boost when he got the opportunity to attend two training sessions with renowned coach David Pearson last week.
Harrogate, England-based Pearson, who coaches men’s and women’s world champions Nick Matthew and Laura Massaro as well as retired Commonwealth Games champion Peter Nicol, was in town for 10 days to assist the 34-year-old Beng Hee in his preparation for the Asiad.
“I was on court with Dave twice and it was a really good experience. He’s really meticulous and technical and it’s a different perspective from what we usually have,” said Sanjay, who will leave for Pretoria, South Africa, on Thursday to compete in the NSA Open from April 6-11.