Syafiq looking forward to playing with the stars in Birmingham

Rare opportunity: Syafiq Kamal (right) wants to make the most out of playing with top players like Paul Coll of New Zealand and Welshman joel Makin at the Commonwealth Games.

PETALING JAYA: Syafiq Kamal knows that a medal in the individual event is out of reach but playing among the top squash professionals in the Birmingham Commonwealth Games is an honour.

While Ng Eain Yow, the world No. 22, and Ivan Yuen (No. 56) have long secured their individual spots, the Squash Racquets Association of Malaysia (SRAM) had delayed naming the third and final spot until the National Championships a fortnight ago.

And Syafiq (No. 84) got the nod ahead of Addeen Idrakie (No. 86) for the Games scheduled from July 28-Aug 8.

The Kota Baru-born player wants to make the most out of playing against top names like world No. 2 Paul Coll of New Zealand, Welshman Joel Makin (No. 7), Saurav Ghosal of India (No. 14) and English trio of Patrick Rooney (No. 21), Adrian Waller (No. 23) and James Wilstrop (No. 24) in Birmingham.

Syafiq will also partner Aifa Azman where they have a fighting chance to reach the medal rounds in the mixed doubles.

“I’m quite happy to be playing in two events. I may not have the chance in the individual event but it will give me valuable experience playing against some of the top professionals,” said Syafiq.

“However, I’ve a better chance in the mixed doubles with Aifa and we will give our best to fight for a medal.”

The Commonwealth Games preparations started on Monday and the initial focus has been on the doubles where the players rarely got the chance to practice due to their commitment in competing in professional tournaments.

Players based abroad like Eain Yow, who has been training in Bristol, England for the last three years, and New York-based S. Sivasangari have returned to train with the rest for the Commonwealth Games.

Syafiq, Ivan and Addeen will also compete in the Tunku Muhriz Trophy, a PSA satellite event, in Seremban beginning on June 28.

Ivan is seeded second while Syafiq is the fourth seed and is expected to meet recent Asian Junior Under-19 champion Noor Zaman of Pakistan in the second round. Syafiq’s last title came in the SRAM PSA 1 tournament in 2019 and will be attempting to end the drought in Seremban next week.

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