PUTRAJAYA, June 27 — Malaysia’s seven-gold target at the 2022 Birmingham Commonwealth Games will be revised by the Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM) following gold medal hopeful S. Sivasangari’s car crash yesterday.
Malaysia’s deputy chef-de-mission (CDM) to the Games, Gerard Monteiro said the national number one women’s squash player is only expected to return to glass court after two or three months, thus missing the Birmingham Games scheduled from July 28 to August 8.
“First of all we are very shocked about what has happened, totally unexpected and as a parent, I can feel for them (Siva’s parents), to have a child to go through this. I visited her just now with the Youth and Sports Minister (Datuk Seri Ahmad Faizal Azumu).
“The good thing is she is now stable, she is able to move her hands and legs. She is able to respond, that is a very good sign. OCM secretary-general (Datuk Mohd Nazifuddin Najib) was also there, they’re definitely looking to revise the target,” he told reporters after visiting Sivasangari at Putrajaya Hospital here, today.
The world number 19 was reported to have sustained head injuries in an accident at the Maju Expressway at 3.46am yesterday.
The 23-year-old was a passenger of a Proton Saga BLM that was 90 per cent razed after colliding with a one-tonne lorry, before skidding and catching fire.
Gerard, who is also the Squash Rackets Association of Malaysia (SRAM) president, hopes the likes of Rachel Arnold, Aifa Azman and men’s player Eain Yow Ng will produce commendable results at Birmingham Games, as the coaches are looking for a possible replacement for Sivasangari.
“We don’t know who will replace Sivasangari yet. The closing date for changing athletes is on June 29, we will have everything sorted out by them,” he added.
Sivasangari, who is on semester break from Cornell University in the United States, is the country’s medal hopeful in both singles and doubles events in Birmingham as the 2018 Professional Squash Association (PSA) Young Player of the Year was in a good form competing in the PSA Tours and college competitions.
On June 14, OCM president Tan Sri Mohamad Norza Zakaria announced the seven-gold-medal target for the upcoming Birmingham Games to match the country’s achievement at the last edition in Gold Coast, Australia.
Badminton is targeted to contribute two gold medals, while gymnastics, lawn bowls, weightlifting, squash and powerlifting are expected to chip in with a gold medal each at the Games.
However, Sivasangari’s crash served as a double blow to the national contingent, after country’s top men’s singles shuttler Lee Zii Jia, another gold medal hopeful, announced his withdrawal from the Commonwealth Games, citing tight schedules and the need to focus on the World Championship.
In the 2018 edition, Malaysia finished 12th with seven gold, five silver and 12 bronze, while the national contingent’s best achievement to date was in the 2010 edition in New Delhi, when it won 12 gold, 10 silver and 14 bronze. — Bernama