Team Singapore will be sending a balanced team comprising of seasoned campaigners and Games debutants to the upcoming SEA Games in Manila, Philippines. Five men and four women will be flying the Singapore flag at the Manila Polo Club from 1 to 9 December 2019.
The men who made the team are Samuel Kang, Timothy Leong, team captain Chua Man Tong, his London-based brother Chua Man Chin and fellow Games debutant Aaron Liang. The ladies’ team will be made out of SPEX-scholar Au Yeong Wai Yhann, Sneha Sivakumar, Sherilyn Yang and debutant Yukino Tan.
Singapore returned home with a record 10-medal haul in the previous 2017 edition of the Games held in Kuala Lumpur – 3 golds, 2 silvers and 5 bronzes, out of the 10 events contested then.
Apart from the men’s and women’s jumbo doubles event, Singapore also brought home the men’s team gold for the first time in 22 years, thanks to a crucial error from the Malaysian team officials back then, where they named an under-strength team that lost to Philippines in the semi-finals.
With the axing of the doubles events, and in particular the jumbo doubles, the number of events being contested at the Games this time will be downsized to 5 – men’s singles, women’s singles, men’s team, women’s team and mixed team. This unfortunate situation has dealt a big blow to the medal hopes of Singapore.
Having powerhouse Malaysia participating in all events, the gold medal hopes of all other nations remain bleak. Unless they withdraw from the Mixed Team event, there would be very little chance to fight for a gold as the Malaysian team will be hard to topple.
Singapore Squash Rackets Association President Patrick Thio said,
“While we have lost the opportunity to defend our two gold medals in the jumbo doubles, we are confident of finishing on the podium for all the events being contested. We are also sending a team of relatively young players that include three debutants, so we are also looking to give them exposure in such a major sports event.”
With all things considered, Singapore has put up a modest target of 2 silvers Women’s and Mixed Team events, and 3 bronzes from the Men’s Team, and the Men’s and Women’s Individual.
Samuel Kang, Chua Man Chin, Au Yeong Wai Yhann and Sneha Sivakumar will be playing in the Men’s and Women’s Individual events. We are looking to return with at least a pair of bronzes, which is a very realistic prospect.
Samuel, despite a dismal showing at the Singapore Open, is set to retain his bronze medal while Au Yeong Wai Yhann will be seeking to add a bronze from this event to the silver and bronze she won in 2017.
In the Men’s Team, where Singapore are the defending champions, it will be a very tall order to repeat the feat. Given the blunder at the last Games, Malaysia will be all out to secure the gold medal this time round.
However, the team, made out of Samuel, Aaron, Man Chin and Man Tong, are good bets for the bronze medal. However, that would also be dependent on the seedings and draw as Singapore are hoping not to draw Malaysia in their half. While the recent Singapore Open has not borne good results for this team, on paper, the team has much better depth than their closest rival Philippines.
The women’s team however, should most likely return with a silver. Apart from Malaysia who are heads and shoulders above the competition, the Singapore team of Au Yeong Wai Yhann, Sneha Sivakumar, Sherilyn Yang and Yukino Tan are good bets for a runners-up medal ahead of arch rivals Philippines, Indonesia and Thailand.
The recent form of Sherilyn Yang in the Singapore Open, where she beat Thailand’s top women player to make the quarter-finals is certainly a big confident booster for the team. With Wai Yhann and Sneha as the top two strings, Sherilyn in-form for the third and Yukino as the fourth member, the women’s team certainly have a reliable quartet.
In the Mixed Team event, unless Malaysia pulls out of the competition, it will be a two-way race against hosts Philippines for the silver medal. Going by the PSA ranking, Singapore has a slight edge over the hosts, but given the home ground advantage, it is really anyone’s match to take. The Singapore team, however, are confident enough to target a silver finish in this event.
The team will be traveling to Manila on 29 November 2019 with Team Manager Benson Seow and Coach Vivian Rhamanan.
“The team is preparing well as we have some quality sparring partners from Malaysia. Our players are in good hands and the sparring partners are sharing their knowledge with our players, to which our players are receptive towards. Some of them are adopting a new tactical game plan which I foresee them to peak at the SEA Games.
“I hope our players will give their best performances at the Games. As some of them will be participating in the SEA Games for the first time, I hope they will overcome their nerves and pressure to be able to give their best. Of course, they should have fun and cherish the moments representing Singapore, which itself is an achievement”, said coach Vivian Rhamanan, a triple SEA Games gold medallist.
An additional bonus for the Singapore squash team is that Samuel Kang has been chosen as the flag bearer for the Singapore contingent, where he will lead the nation’s contingent of 666 athletes across 48 sports into the Philippine Arena in Bulacan, Manila on 30 November 2019.
Chua Man Chin
Au Yeong Wai Yhann
Chua Man Chin
Chua Man Tong
Au Yeong Wai Yhann
Au Yeong Wai Yhann