No regrets but a silver lining as HK's heroine bows out
There was no perfect ending for Rebecca Chiu Wing-yin, only a silver lining on her illustrious career.
Hong Kong's most successful squash player suffered a 3-1 loss to Low Wee Wern of Malaysia in the opening match of the women's team final at the Asian Games Gymnasium yesterday, bringing down the curtain on her 22-year career.
Hong Kong had to settle for a silver medal after Chiu's teammate, Annie Au Wing-chi, lost in straight games to world number one and five-times back-to-back World Open champion Nicol David handing Malaysia a 2-0 victory. Joey Chan Ho-ling did not play in the best-of-three format.
'I will be too old for the next Games at Incheon and will definitely not play there,' said Chiu, who celebrated her 32nd birthday on Wednesday. 'I was not at my best against Low, making some mistakes and failing to take some big points, especially in the third game. We would have had a better chance for the gold if I won the opening match.
'But overall, I have no regrets as we still won a silver medal in this inaugural event, while our men's team came home with a bronze medal - a major breakthrough.'
Chiu, who first started playing at the age of nine and has represented Hong Kong at all squash events in the Asian Games since it was introduced in Bangkok in 1998, treasures most the gold medal she won at the 2002 Games in Pusan when defeating David in the final. The East Asian Games in Hong Kong last year also rate highly on her list of achievements as she clinched three golds and one silver medal. By winning the team silver for Hong Kong, Chiu joined David as the only women players to win a squash medal at every Asiad.
Chiu said she would now take a break before deciding her future.
'Everything has been geared towards these Games over the past couple of months and I haven't given much thought on what to do afterwards,' she said. 'I plan to spend some time on studies in languages while looking for a job, but have no idea of which field it will be. Maybe I will keep playing in some tournaments, but definitely not in a multi-sport games.'
Hong Kong coach Tony Choi Yuk-kwan expressed his gratitude to Chiu for her contribution to the game.
'She has done a great job for the sport over these long years,' said Choi. 'Not only the medals she brought for Hong Kong, but also her great fighting attitude on the court. We have not spoken about what will happen after the Games, but will sit down and have a talk.'
Choi said they lost to a better side yesterday.
'Ever since they lost to us at the Asian Championships in Chennai in May, they have been preparing for this showdown,' said Choi. 'Both Chiu and Au have given their best, but we were just not good enough on the day.
'Au played an even better match against David in the individual final, using her best shots and skills to challenge the Malaysian, but David was able to hold her no matter how hard Au tried. I am sure we have a very bright future with Au and Chan making big progress in the next couple of years.'
Au, now Hong Kong's highest ranked player, was happy with her performance.
'I thought I played better today than in the individual final,' said the world number 14. 'However, David was too strong. She played the first two games aggressively and obviously had thought out her strategy before the match.'
The Malaysian victory also ended Hong Kong's hopes of adding to the gold medal tally of eight, with only karate and athletics left on the team's schedule.