Double gold for squash in jumbo doubles
Singapore's 22-year wait for a women's squash gold at the SEA Games came to an end at the Raintree Club in Kuala Lumpur yesterday, after the jumbo doubles pairing of Mao Shi Hui and Sherilyn Yang beat Jemyca Aribado and Yvonne Dalida of the Philippines 11-5, 11-8.
Despite making their Games debuts, Mao and Yang showed nerves of steel to rally from 6-1 down in the second set to win the match.
Singapore's last SEA Games gold medal in women's squash came in Chiang Mai 1995, when Mah Li Lian bagged the singles title.
Speaking to The New Paper over the phone, Yang said that the win means a lot to her because she is the first in her family to win a Games gold medal.
Her father, ex-national sprinter Yeo Kian Chai, took part in nine SEA Games.
Yang, 23, said: "Both of us played really well today.
"The game plan was to set up Shi Hui for the kill, and I couldn't give away any loose shots because Philippines' back player Jemyca is really strong.
"There was a lot of pressure in the second set because this gold is a combined effort from all our teammates, coaches, friends and family.
"We didn't want to let anyone down when we were down by four or five points.
"But this win is amazing, for both me and my family.
"My father has never won a gold medal in the SEA Games so I am really glad that I am the first one in the family to do it.
"I do not know how people can say that squash is a dying sport, a sport that you play after retirement.
"I really hope that this gold-medal win promotes the sport better because it needs more publicity and fresh blood."
Yang and Mao have been training together only since May to prepare for the Games.
Mao believes the victory came about because their styles complemented each other's perfectly.
The 25-year-old management consultant said: "Off the court, we are close friends because we have known each other for close to 10 years now.
"We played in the age group squads (Under-17, U-19, and U-20) in the singles team but we had never played as a pair before.
"We are a perfect fit to play together because Sherilyn is fit and lasts longer on the court while I am more aggressive and explosive with my shots.
"With this win, I hope that younger Singaporeans will play squash, take it seriously, and represent the nation in the sport."
Not to be outdone, the men's pair of Vivian Rhamanan and Samuel Kang also delivered the goods in their final, demolishing Ade Furkon and Agung Wilant of Indonesia 11-3, 11-3 to win the jumbo doubles gold.
The 31 year-old Rhamanan, who won the same event in 2015 with Marcus Phua, said: "It means a lot to defend the gold.
"The final went according to how we planned from the start to the end, and we managed to apply pressure at the right time."