Three months after knee surgery, squash player gets the boot

·3-min read
Three months after knee surgery, squash player gets the boot
Three months after knee surgery, squash player gets the boot

Low Wee Wern might have opted not to undergo surgery for a knee injury if she had been informed earlier that the National Sports Council (NSC) would not renew her training programme contract.

The former world number five squash player was among 180 athletes whose training programmes under the NSC were not extended.

In a conversation with another athlete on Facebook, Low said she underwent the surgery in the UK three months ago.

“I did my surgery in September, so if you knew that you did not want to renew me for the following year, at least tell me before the surgery.

“Then I can decide whether I want to go through one more surgery or not,” she said.

Squash player Low Wee Wern after knee surgery
Squash player Low Wee Wern after knee surgery

Low also revealed she had turned down scholarship opportunities in US universities in order to continue her professional squash career in Malaysia.

The 32-year-old athlete was the first Malaysian squash player to break into the top 10 ranking without undergoing training stints abroad.

“I have proven that with a local coach and training here in Penang, we can have results,” she said.

Respect athletes

Speaking to Malaysiakini, Low said she could understand that the NSC has been subjected to budget cuts but is disappointed in the manner she was treated.

“It is not about the money, we are talking about principles and at the very least, respecting athletes who have contributed so much to the country.

“Yes, you have a budget cut, but at least you can sit down and have a discussion with the athletes (to explain the situation),” she added.

Low, who learned about her fate from the Squash Racquets Association of Malaysia (SRAM), criticised the NSC for not issuing an official statement or notice on the matter.

Similarly, her coach Aaron Soyza was also disappointed and described the move to drop Low as puzzling.

After receiving backlash for two weeks, the NSC explained its decision and apologised to Low.

Squash coach Aaron Soyza (right) with Lee during a video interview
Squash coach Aaron Soyza (right) with Lee during a video interview

The council said since Low would need time to recover and would not be able to compete in three major competitions, the NSC, SRAM and National Sports Institute (ISN) decided not to extend her contract.

It also stated that all previous communication with Low was conducted through the Squash Racquets Association despite her contract with the NSC.

Robbed of potential gold medals

Low is not the only athlete who is upset with the way the NSC handled the issue.

It was previously reported that former diving world champion Cheong Jun Hoong was also in the dark about her contract not being renewed.

Two weeks later, she announced her retirement.

“Based on my performance, I did not think I would not get the contract. I was shocked,” she said in an online interview.

Cheong made history when she became the country's first and only diver to win the world title in the 10m individual platform at the 2017 World Championship in Budapest, Hungary.

Commenting on the NSC’s decision, sports commentator Lim Zheng Han said that athletes with potential might lose the opportunity to excel.

He said since the NSC only retained monthly allowances for gold medallists, others might feel demoralised.

“They will lose their motivation. We should let them know that getting a silver or bronze medal, or getting into the quarter-finals, is something to be proud of,” he added.

Lim also pointed out that NSC's decision has robbed the nation of potential gold medals as athletes who might shine in the future have lost their chance to do so.

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