Sukma squash gold medal winners Sanjay Singh Chal (left) and Vanessa Raj, in the men's and women's category respectively.
KANGAR: Sarawak’s Sanjay Singh Chal completed a remarkable turnaround in his squash career by capturing the Sukma men’s individual gold medal at the State Sports Complex here.
Sanjay survived a lapse in concentration midway through Monday’s final but bounced back to beat Mohd Syafiq Kamal of Kelantan 11-4, 11-6, 10-12, 12-10.
The 20-year-old from Miri was told in January he might not lift a racquet again after being diagnosed with an enlarged heart. He was forced to stop playing for two months. It was only in March that he was given the green light to play again after medical tests concluded he was healthy.
“It feels good to land the Sukma gold after everything that I have been through,” said Sanjay.
“I threw away three match points in the third set after allowing a bad call to affect me. In the fourth, the positions were reversed and I did the same thing to him by taking five consecutive points to finish off the match. I went for the kill because I feared suffering another meltdown like my loss in the 2012 Sukma,” added Sanjay, who lost to Selangor’s Muhammad Zul Azri in the semi-finals despite winning the first two
sets in the 2012 Sukma in Kuantan.
In the women’s final, Vanessa Raj continued Penang’s stranglehold on the individual gold medal after prevailing 11-2, 7-11, 15-13, 12-14, 11-8 over Rachel Arnold of the Federal Territories in a titanic 70-minute battle.
“Our matches have always been closely contested and today’s final was the same. I am happy to win my first Sukma individual gold. Now, I want to help Penang retain the women’s team gold,” said the 18-year-old Vanessa.
Vanessa is the fourth Sukma women’s squash champion from Penang after Nicol David (1998, 2000, 2002), Low Wee Wern (2006, 2008, 2010) and Low Wee Nee (2012).