NG Eain Yow knows all about the pressure of competing on home ground.
After all, the 19-year old squash player has had his fair share of success on home soil – playing a key role as Malaysia beat a fancied Pakistan to win the Asian Junior Team Championships in 2015.
But Eain Yow has also crumbled under pressure at home too, with a defeat in the semi-finals of the Asian Junior Individual Championships to Jordan’s Mohamed Alsarraj last year.
The reigning world junior champion is, however, confident he is up for the challenge when Malaysia hosts the SEA Games from Aug 19-30.
Especially with squash expected to deliver seven out of nine gold medals on offer.
“I don’t have the best record at home ... it’s a mixed bag actually, especially since I lost in the Asian Juniors last year,” said Eain Yow.
“But with that said, I’m looking forward to the SEA Games. Being in KL makes it more special since everyone can come and support us.
“I also feel that I’ve regained my confidence following a slow start this year. I doubted myself a little then but I’ve been playing good squash since and I’m very much on track.
“The three-week stint in New Zealand last month also helped a lot, especially in learning about recovery in between matches and to be professional in my match preparations.
“I certainly feel more confident now and I feel that a seven-gold target is realistic ... we have a good chance to make that happen.”
Eain Yow, who is now a career-high No. 83 in the world following two months of solid performances, winning the NT Open in Australia in May and reaching the semi-finals of the New Zealand International Classic in Palmerston North last month, is expected to deliver at least three gold medals.
He is the favourite for the men’s singles gold and he will also feature in the men’s doubles with Mohd Syafiq Kamal and the team event.
The Eain Yow-Syafiq combination will first see action when they head for the World Doubles Squash Championships in Manchester from Aug 1-5.
“I hope Syafiq and me will get a spot to play doubles. We have good chemistry,” added Eain Yow.
Besides Eain Yow and Syafiq, the other players in the men’s squad are Mohd Addeen Idrakie, Sanjay Singh Chal, Darren Rahul Pragasam, Ong Sai Hung, Mohd Farez Izwan and Ryan Pasqual.
The women’s team comprise S. Sivasangari, Rachel Arnold, Andrea Lee, Zoe Foo, Aifa Azman, Chan Yiwen, Ooi Kah Yan and Lai Wen Li.
Malaysia is expected to nail gold medals from the singles (men and women), doubles (men, women and mixed) and team (men and women) events.
They are not competing in the men and women’s jumbo doubles events.