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Malaysia aiming for double gold in squash

Malaysia aiming for double gold in squash
Associated Press
Posted on November 10, 2010 at 5:03 AM
Updated today at 5:06 AM

GUANGZHOU, China (AP) — World champion Nicol David is a good chance to clinch the women’s gold in the Asian Games and her fellow Malaysians Azlan Iskander and Ong Beng Hee are expected to vie for top honors in the men’s competition.

“It would be great if Azlan and I can make it an all-Malaysian final,” Hee told the New Straits Times on Wednesday.

Hee — in the bottom half of the draw — will be aiming for his third successive Asian Games gold, and is eager not to miss a hat-trick at Guangzhou.

“Of course, I would love to do it, who wouldn’t?”

David won her long-awaited Commonwealth Games gold medal at New Delhi last month when she defeated England’s Jenny Duncalf in the final. She’s been in supreme form in 2010 and has not let her No. 1 world ranking slip away.

David is unlikely to be stretched at Guangzhou to claim her third Asian Games title in four appearances. She was only shocked once when Hong Kong’s Rebecca Chiu won the gold at Busan eight years ago.

The 30-year-old Hee is seeded No. 2 behind Iskander and was aware of the fact that his compatriot has been in good form.

“I’ve been playing well too, except for the stomach bug at the Kuwait Open,” Hee said.

However, Iskander was far from his best at New Delhi last month when he lost the bronze medal match to England’s Peter Barker in straight games.

Pakistan once ruled the squash world when the two Khans — Jahangir and Jansher — used to win consistently at the major tournaments. But since Jansher’s retirement in the mid-1990s, Pakistan has not produced players of the same caliber.

Amir Atlas Khan, Farhan Mahboob, Yasir Butt and Danish Atlas carry Pakistan’s hopes at Guangzhou and the national squash federation hopes they might give the Malaysian pair run for their money.

“We are optimistic about winning a gold medal,” Irfan Asghar, secretary Pakistan Squash Federation said recently.

But the poor international rankings of Pakistan players show they might struggle against Malaysians in the singles competition. Amir is only ranked at world No. 22 while Mehboob and Butt are placed at 45th and 59th respectively.

Pakistan has some hope to get better of Malaysia in the team competition. It won the last two major international competitions against Malaysia — World Team Championships and Asian Championships.

“I would say it is 50-50,” Hee said.

“The individual event will give an indication of how the team event will turn out.

“Azlan was sick the last time but we are ready now.”


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