Elvinn Keo (right), seen here at a local meet in Bukit Jalil last year, has been included in the selection squad for numerous tournaments this year. - Filepic
PETALING JAYA: It’s never easy being dropped from the national squad.
Had it not been for his passion for squash, 25-year-old Elvinn Keo would have already hung up his racquet and called it a day.
The Penangite, however, has managed to stay on, despite the limited funds, and play his way into contention for a spot in the selection squad for the Asian Team Championship, Commonwealth Games and Asian Games.
He proved his worth when he made a fine run to the final in the third leg of the Malaysian Tour squash circuit (SSJM) last week, before losing to national No.1 Mohd Nafiizwan Adnan in four sets.
Elvinn, who has never represented Malaysia in major events throughout his time with the Squash Racquets Association of Malaysia (SRAM) from 2006-2012, is looking for one final push to make the squad while he still can when the trials take place from April 29-May 1.
“It’s tough after being out of the national team for the past two years, but I’ve had some help here and there,” said Elvinn, who does his own private coaching these days.
“To be honest, I thought I’d never get a chance to represent Malaysia anymore ... it’s a great opportunity for me to be part of this selection trials.
“Although I’m no longer part of the national set-up, it will still be a great honour to represent the country if I get selected ... especially, since I was never selected for any major team events during my time with SRAM.
“This is my one final push ... while my body still allows it and I’m still motivated. I’ve been working hard the past few weeks to prepare for this selection.”
Elvinn will compete with the likes of Valentino Bon Jovi Bong, Mohd Addeen Idrakie, Sanjay Singh Chal and former world No. 10 Mohd Azlan Iskandar for a place in the team.
And Elvinn, who is the fifth-ranked Malaysian behind Nafiizwan (world No. 33), Beng Hee (world No. 34), Mohd Asyraf Azan (world No. 64) and Ivan (world No.71), believes that the presence of Azlan would make the trials tougher.
“I can still beat the younger boys because I probably have a bit more experience ... although it won’t be easy as they are improving rapidly,” said Elvinn.
“Azlan, though, will be tough ... even though he is officially retired, he still keeps himself fit and plays squash regularly. But I’m ready to give it my best,” added Elvinn, who will first compete in the fourth leg of the SSJM in Kangar beginning Friday.