'Old man' Ong keeps title as Malaysians rule
Veteran Ong retains crown as Malaysians dominate
Malaysia's two-time Asian Games champion Ong Beng Hee, who retired from top-level squash earlier this year, bagged his second consecutive Old Chang Kee Singapore Open title at the Kallang Squash and Tennis Centre yesterday.
The 35-year-old, who won gold medals at the 2002 Busan and 2006 Doha Asiads and was once ranked seventh in the world, saw off compatriot Valentino Bong 3-2 (11-3, 11-6, 9-11, 4-11, 11-5) in the Men's Premier final.
Early on in the final, it looked like Ong, who retired because he felt age had slowed him down, would rack up an easy win over his opponent - who at 26 is almost a decade younger - after winning the first two games in style.
The veteran even pulled off a shot with his arm behind his back, which drew rapturous applause from the almost 200 spectactors who had crammed into the venue.
Bong came back strongly, though, and won the next two sets, but Ong proved experience trumps enthusiasm when he regrouped and coolly won the decider 11-5.
When praised for his performance, Ong quipped: "I was a lot better 12 months ago.
"Now I've started work (as a coach with the Malaysian national team), it's hard to push my body every day like I used to as an athlete.
"It's nice to come here and compete without pressure, not worrying if you'll win or lose, and just enjoy the game.
"I'm not going to be top 10 or top 20 any more... It's good to be able to give the younger guys a run for their money."
The Women's Premier final was also an all-Malaysian affair, as Delia Arnold beat younger sister Rachel 3-0 (11-4, 11-8, 11-2) to bag the title in her first outing here.
SISTER BEATS SISTER
World No. 18 Delia, who at 29 is 10 years older than her sister, had won the two previous times they had met.
After extending that streak, she said: "It's never easy playing my sister. We see each other at home all the time, train together, and it's getting tougher every time I play her."
Singapore's best Men's Premier finisher was Samuel Kang, who lost his third-placing match with Malaysian Elvinn Keo 3-2 (11-8, 7-11, 5-11, 11-8, 11-8).
Vivian Rhamanan, the SEA Games gold medallist in the jumbo doubles, finished sixth, after going down 3-2 (10-12, 11-9, 11-7, 6-11, 11-7) to Malaysian Choong Kam Hing.
"I’m not going to be top 10 or top 20 any more... it’s good to be able to give the younger guys a run for their money."
— Ong Beng Hee, who is now a coach with the Malaysian national team, on competing in the Old Chang Kee Singapore Open