Mixed emotions for Yiwen after finally winning gold

Hit a high note: FT’s Chan Yiwen returning a shot to Kedah’s Aira Azman in the women’s singles final. — FAIHAN GHANI/The Star

IT was a bittersweet moment for Chan Yiwen when she finally won the women’s individual squash crown that she’s been yearning for since 2016.

But her win was tinged with sadness as the Federal Territories (FT) player’s victory was against the state of her birth.

Born in Jitra, Kedah, Yiwen moved to Kuala Lumpur in 2014 with her family and started competing at the Sukma for FT in 2016.

Yiwen’s golden moment was another pleasant coincidence. In the Games’ 2018 edition, she made it to the final only to be beaten by Aifa Azman, from Kedah.

Yesterday, she avenged that defeat by overcoming Aifa’s younger sister Aira 11-3, 8-11, 3-11, 11-5, 11-4 in 41 minutes to conclude her Sukma appearance on a high.

There was more joy for Yiwen as the gold was an early birthday present as she turns 22 on Sunday.

“I moved to KL when I was 14 and my early development was in Kedah. I’m happy to win this gold for FT but at the same time, I’m also happy to see Kedah have been doing very well in Sukma over the years,” said Yiwen.

“Although we are representing different states, Aira, myself and several other players in the tournament are all teammates in the national squad and we are happy for each other.

“I’ve been waiting for this gold for so long and it feels so good to win it with my birthday just five days away.”

Yiwen’s next mission is to win the women’s doubles gold with Noor Ainaa Amani Ampandi and despite carrying shin injuries, both players are looking forward to giving their all to secure the title.

The duo, who lost to teammates Aifa-Rachel Arnold in the bronze playoff at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham last month, hope that experience will come in handy.

“Despite the injury, we will give it our best shot. There is a high possibility we might meet Kedah again in the final,” added Yiwen.

The bronze medal was won by Lai Wen Li of Sabah who received a walkover from Ainaa.

Yiwen’s next target is to make it to the national squad for the Asian Team championships in Cheongju, South Korea from Oct 31-Nov 4.

Meanwhile, Ong Sai Hung finally won his first gold in his last attempt at the Sukma after beating Hafiz Zhafri Abul Harif 11-7, 11-5, 5-11, 11-6 in an all-Kedah men’s individual final yesterday.

The 23-year-old Sai Hung was pleased to bow out from the Games as the champion.

“I feel very happy after trying to win a medal in the last few Games,” said Sai Hung, who will be out to extend his win in the men’s doubles with Hafiz.

“Hafiz (20) is my junior and obviously the pressure is on me but I didn’t want to take it easy by expecting him to make mistakes. I was positive and took the initiative to win it with my own effort.”

Sanjay Jeeva won the bronze after beating Darren Rahul Pragasam 11-7, 15-13, 5-11, 12-14, 12-10 in an all-Negri Sembilan playoff that lasted 78 minutes.

Meanwhile, Sarawak’s Harith Danial made a golden debut when he won the mixed doubles with Nathalie Sim.

The pair overcame teammates Nathan Kueh-Mah Si Yi 9-11, 11-9, 11-5 in 28 minutes.

“I can’t ask for anything more in my first Sukma. I am delighted with gold despite the presence of some strong pairs,” said Harith.

The bronze was won by Selan-gor’s S. Sunil Kumar-Shasmithaa who defeated Negri Sembilan’s C. Ameeshenraj-Nur Maisara Azlan Shah 5-11, 11-8, 11-5.

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