RACHEL Arnold finally fullfilled her long-time goal of winning a medal in the Commonwealth Games by taking the bronze medal in the women’s doubles with Aifa Azman at the University of Birmingham Hockey and Squash Centre yesterday. Rachel-Aifa defeated compatriots Chan Yiwen-Ainaa Amani Ampandi 11-3, 11-9 in the playoff.
Appearing in her third Commonwealth Games, Rachel lost in the quarter-finals of the individual event but saved her best for the doubles where she was playing a first major competition with Aifa.
It was Malaysia’s first medal in the women’s doubles.
Both pairs already made a breakthrough by reaching the semi-finals, also a first for Malaysia in the Games.
Rachel was overjoyed with the victory which also meant that Malaysia will return with a medal despite having a relatively young team for the Birmingham Games.
Rachel-Aifa lost to England’s Sarah-Jane Perry-Alison Waters in three games while Yiwen-Ainaa fell to defending champions Joelle King-Amanda Landers Murphy of New Zealand in the last four.
“I’m still in shock really, but feeling great. Can’t believe we got a bronze, considering it’s an unexpected pairing with me and Aifa,” said Rachel.
“But I think we did well to come back from our loss yesterday (Saturday), and the other girls did really well to make it this far too.”
Rachel, who was supposed to partner S. Sivasangari in the event, had to switch plans after the latter was involved in a road accident.
However, Rachel’s experience of playing in the doubles regularly since the last Games in Gold Coast in 2018 had paid dividends.
Men’s pair Ng Eain Yow-Ivan Yuen’s aim of clinching a medal went up in smoke when they faltered in the bronze medal playoff.
Eain Yow-Ivan were beaten 11-10, 11-6 by Greg Lobban-Rory Stewart of Scotland.
National team manager Major (rtd) S. Maniam said Eain Yow-Ivan couldn’t get going as the Scottish pair were the better pair.
“The boys lost to a better pair today (yesterday). We just could not get going today. Eain Yow-Ivan played their hearts out. Felt really sorry for them for missing out on a medal,” said Maniam.
“It was a fine effort from all the players here.”
Malaysia had initially targeted gold with Sivasangari, the world No. 16, still part of the team but the target had to be revised to one medal.
Rachel-Aifa, despite playing as pair for the first time in a tournament, managed take on more established pairs and eventually returned with the projected medal from Birmingham.