Kedah's winning squash team (from left): Aifa Azman, Nazihah Hanis Razak, Aika Azman and S. Sivasangari celebrate after winning the women's squash team final at Sukma. – Faihan Ghani / THE STAR
KANGAR: Nazihah Hanis Razak played the role of saviour once again as she led Kedah’s comeback to win a historic Sukma squash women’s team gold medal at the State Sports Complex.
After Kedah’s top player S. Sivasangari had gone down to Federal Territories’ Rachel Arnold 11-5, 11-6, 11-8 in the opening match, Nazihah kept the northern state alive in the tie with a hard-fought 11-4, 11-5, 11-13, 11-8 win over Andrea Lee.
Aika Azman then sealed Kedah’s first-ever squash gold medal in Sukma with a comfortable 11-3, 11-7, 11-4 victory over the 12-year-old Noor Ainaa Amani.
The 18-year-old Nazihah had also rallied Kedah’s fightback in the semi-final win over Selangor and the group stage victory over FT, after Sivasangari had lost the opening ties.
“I am delighted to play my role in the second singles to deliver the wins needed to help Kedah win the gold medal. I got fourth placing in the team event in Malacca 2010 and a bronze in Kuantan two years ago, so this triumph ends a long wait,” said Nazihah.
“This victory is special because it justifies all the hard work put in by everyone associated with squash in Kedah. I hope this is just the beginning of more Kedah Sukma squash successes.”
FT clinched the men’s team gold medal by beating Kelantan 2-0.
Ng Eain Yow set the ball rolling after an epic 11-4, 9-11, 9-11, 12-10, 11-7 win over Mohd Syafiq Kamal that lasted 75 minutes.
Mohd Amir Farhan played out of his skin to deliver FT’s winning point with a surprisingly straightforward 12-10, 11-9, 11-5 win over the fancied Mohd Farez Izwan.
“I would rate my win over Farez as the best performance in my career,” said a beaming Amir.
“After finishing empty-handed in my two previous Sukma outings, I knew this was my last chance to bag a gold and go out with a bang. My team-mates were depending on me to win and I pushed myself to the limits to deliver the victory.”
In the third place playoffs, Sarawak beat Negri Sembilan 2-1 in the men’s section while the Penang women overcame Selangor by the same scoreline to take the bronze.