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Sharon hopes to see junior-senior gap narrowed in squash


Sharon Wee gives the thumbs up to Malaysian junior squash players Jessica Keng and Ng Eain Yow after they returned from Britain as British Open champions in their age group in January. - The STAR Filepic

Sharon Wee gives the thumbs up to Malaysian junior squash players Jessica Keng and Ng Eain Yow after they returned from Britain as British Open champions in their age group in January. - The STAR Filepic

KUALA LUMPUR: Former international Sharon Wee’s Merdeka Day wish is to see the gap narrowed between the senior and junior squash players.

The 38-year-old Sharon was pleased to see Malaysia win six out of eight titles at stake in last week’s Asian Junior Championships in Teheran, Iran.

Mohd Amir Amirul (boys’ Under-13), Siow Yee Xian (boys’ Under-15), M. Kiroshanna (girls’ Under-13), Aifa Azman (girls’ Under-15), S. Sivasangari (girls’ Under-17) and Andrea Lee (girls’ Under-19) emerged champions as Malaysia completed their most successful campaign in the championships.

Ng Eain Yow could have won a seventh but the top seed lost in the boys’ Under-19 final.

While applauding the Squash Racquets Association of Malaysia’s (SRAM) junior programme, Sharon said there should be a more effective transitional period.

“Squash has an excellent development programme and the good showing at the Asian Juniors is proof of that,” said Sharon when met at the Datuk Theng Book Cup media badminton tournament in Puchong on the eve of Merdeka Day celebration.

Sharon, who represented Astro at the tournament, was one of the contemporaries of Nicol David, Mohd Azlan Iskandar and Ong Beng Hee before quitting in 2010.

“We all know that Nicol is an exceptional player. It will be difficult to find her replacement. But it is good that others like Eain Yow, Ivan Yuen, Low Wee Wern and Delia Arnold are doing well.”

She said that Malaysia need more juniors to step up to the top level in world squash.

“The transition from a junior to a senior player is not only about talent, but also about mental and self-belief,” said the Malacca-born Sharon.

“At this stage, the roles of the sports psychologists and coaches are important. And we tend to lose many talented athletes once they finished their studies.”

Sharon is now doing her part to promote the sport. She has set up an academy – Sharon Wee Squash Pro – in Kuala Lumpur to work closely with university students.

“In some ways, I am trying to tackle this gap issue through the junior and university development programmes.

“I have started a programme at Universiti Malaya and liaise with 16 other local universities. We provide a platform for athletes between 18-22 to prolong their squash careers or even other sports,” said Sharon, who is also a sports commentator with Astro.

Besides trying to help Malaysia excel in world sports, Sharon also hopes to see Malaysians live peacefully and appreciate their diversity as they celebrate the 58th Merdeka Day.

“I have travelled across the five continents throughout my squash career, and there is nothing like home. Let’s embrace our differences and stay together in harmony,” said Sharon.
   

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