PETALING JAYA: There is no place for national squash player Low Wee Wern in the Podium Programme.
The 31-year-old is one of 10 players from the Squash Racquets Association of Malaysia (SRAM) whose contracts were not extended next year.
Wee Wern is the only main player from the Podium Programme while three others – Lai Wen Li, Ooi Kah Yan and Daniel Nurhaqiem Sharul Izham are under group two of the programme.
The others are from the back-up squad – Adam Agan Aziz, Shamiel Haeyzad Sharulhisam, Mohd Shauqi Halim, Mohd Fayyad Wajdi Hashim, Nur Maisara Mohd Azlan and Wee Ming Hock.
SRAM director Major (rtd) S. Maniam said they were unable to retain Wee Wern under the programme funded by the National Sports Council (NSC) as she had undergone a surgery on her right knee recently.
“She’s a good player but is currently recovering from her surgery. We will review her status once she gets back and starts producing results again,” said Maniam.
Wee Wern was the country’s number one player at the start of this year but has dropped to fourth after the surgery in London in October.
It was her fourth surgery in a span of six years but it did not stop her from being ranked as high as No. 5 in the world, only the second Malaysia, to do so after Datuk Nicol David.
She is now ranked 67th in the Professional Squash Association ranking below S. Sivasangari (29), Aifa Azman (36) and Rachel Arnold (39).
“The door will be always open to Wee Wern. She can train on her own in Penang and make her way back into the team.
“We had a good discussion with the NSC before making this decision. It’s really no fault of the NSC as they have been faced with a heavy slash in their budget.
“We had a maximum of 33 players but now we can only afford to keep 24.”
Maniam said Wen Li’s omission was due to the latter’s decision to further her studies.
“We, however, had to drop Kah Yan because there have not been any outstanding results.
“We also had to remove others also based on their performances,” he said.
Maniam stressed that those shown the exit could still train with the national team.
“We are open with that. The players can join our training programme and benefit from it but the only thing that they will be missing out on are the allowances, perks, competitions – all that incur costs,” he said.
“If an athlete can make it on their own and prove themselves, we will appeal for their inclusion into the programme.”