Friday, September 18

Squash junior eyes upcoming tournaments despite lockdown

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SIBU: Squash junior Chris Lau Hui Rong is only 15-years-old but he certainly knows how to juggle his time between sports and studies.

The former CIMB Foundation Rising Star champion was eager to train but could not do so in the past last two months due to the Covid-19 pandemic and Movement Control Order (MCO) which halted normal sports activities.

“I will make full use of the extra time to do my online studies and complete the homework given to me by my teachers during CMCO period,” said the student of SMK Sacred Heart.

Ranked U-15 Asian Junior No.9 and National No.2, Chris is one of the elite junior stars produced by Sibu Squash Association (SSA).

He surged to the limelight when he grabbed the U-9 title of the CIMB Foundation Rising Star squash championship in Kuala Lumpur in 2013.

He went on to lift the U-11 title in the same tournament in 2016.

He was roped into the state squad and had regularly emerged top six in the CIMB Foundation National Junior Championship and the Malaysia Secondary Schools Sports (MSSM) Squash Championships in 2017, 2018 and 2019.

Two years ago, Chris, who has a habit of beating older players, secured his first international title at the U-15 ONCOCARE Singapore Junior Open when he was only 13-year-0ld.

Last year, he finished third at the Redtone KL Junior Open in the U-15 category.

“Hopefully, I can start training soon and pick up from where I left about two months ago. I wish to take part in more competitions to keep myself fit and motivated,” said the Sukma back-up squad player.

Chris follows instructions from his Pakistani coach Mohd Shaoib for his daily fitness training from 6am to 8.30pm through video conferencing.

His mother Wong Sing Siew, who is SSA tournament director, said Chris was supposed to take part in the National Junior Championship in Bukit Jalil last February and also the 1st and 2nd legs of the 15th CIMB Rising Star National Junior Championship (RSNJC) last March and in June respectively.

“However, all these events have been called off, leaving Chris with no choice but to stay put at home.”

On the cards are the Borneo Junior Open in July, Penang Junior Open in August, the 3rd leg and Grand Final of the 15th CIMB RSNJC in October and the Redtone KL Junior Open in December.

“It remains unclear if all these tournaments will also be called off. Maybe when the health situation improves, some of these tournaments may be allowed to proceed. We just have to keep our fingers crossed.”

If squash is allowed to resume, Wong said only the elite players will be allowed to train at the Sibu Squash centres.

The centre will not be opened to members of the public initially.

“Life will be a new normal. We will follow the standard operating procedures and ensure social distancing rules are practised,” she said.