A sport on the rise. An athlete with his eyes on the prize.
04 December 2017
By Nicolette Mok
Ahead of the Singapore Squash Open, TeamSG’s Timothy Leong chats about his sport’s as well as his own development and goals.
History was made at the 2015 SEA Games when TeamSG squash players Vivian Rhamanan and Marcus Phua took the men’s jumbo doubles title, marking Singapore’s first squash gold medal at the regional meet in 20 years.
This year, the squad delivered more, bringing in a total of three gold, two silver, and five bronze medals – marking the start of a renaissance for the sport.
Our TeamSG Squash team at the 2017 SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur.
(Photo Credit: Timothy Leong)
Among these medallists is a young, emerging star; a silver-winning doubles player that might have escaped the eyes of the public amid the flurry of triumphs during August’s competition.
Indeed, alongside the fast-developing squash scene in Singapore, 21-year-old Timothy Leong is also maturing as an athlete, with ambitions to improve his ranking at the upcoming Singapore Squash Open, and earn bigger accolades on the regional and international stage.
Currently studying for a diploma in Sports and Exercise Science, the youth, who is also assistant coach to the national junior squad, picked up squash when he was just two and joined the national team when he was 16. He rose through the national rankings following the completion of his National Service this year, now standing at a credible sixth in Singapore, having overtaken some of his older teammates.
Fuelled by passion and determination to give his all both while training and coaching, he hopes to inspire his younger team members through his results, as well as a good training attitude. “I want to represent Singapore for as long as I can and give back to the squash community. Coaching is one way I can contribute too. I hope to be a good role model to the juniors and inspire them to become the next SEA Games or Asian Games medallist,” he expressed.
Timothy’s efforts, as well as those of his teammates, paid off at the SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur. Noting what their achievements this year had done for the sport, he said: “I was a bit disappointed that I couldn’t get the gold but looking back, our finals opponents were really strong so I’m satisfied. With our performance, we know that we’re catching up with our competitors, and we’ll stand a better chance against the stronger countries if we get to the Asian stage.”
Timothy Leong (right) together with teammate Pang Ka Hoe (left) won silver in Men's Doubles event at the 2017 SEA Games. (Photo Credit: Knight Ong)
Timothy revealed that the squad will now be working towards qualifying for the Asian Team Championships next March and, subsequently, the Asian Games in August. Of course, ahead of this, they have been improving their game with a new training structure. After all, as he indicated, the growth of the local scene certainly entails the progress of its players too.
“Before the SEA Games, we focused more on polishing our techniques and game play. Now, the intensity for physical training and drills have intensified. It’s a lot more about strategy and tactics. We play conditioned games, where we’re always thinking about the best options to play at certain points of time. All of us have been benefitting from this training. Squash is a thinking game. We can’t just go in and whack the ball. We need to know how and where to place it,” he elaborated.
Timothy Leong (right) in action at the National Squash Championships 2017 against national teammate Vivian Rhamanan. (Photo Credit: Timothy Leong)
Sharing that the team was hoping to reach top 80 in terms of world standards by 2022, he added: “Looking long-term, we have our sights set on the 2022 Asian and Commonwealth Games. For Asian Games, we’re aiming to get a medal and for the Commonwealth Games, we’re looking at a medal in the international doubles.”
For now, though, Timothy will be working to break into the top eight at the Singapore Squash Open. Keep rooting for him as he battles it out from 5 to 10 December, and follow our TeamSG Facebook page for updates.