Just a few days after French former World Champion Thierry Lincou announced his retirement, the squash fans have been shocked by the next retirement. Malaysian squash star Mohd Azlan Iskandar has announced his decision to retire from the PSA World Tour with immediate effect.
Azlan entered the PSA in 2000 and the Sarawak-born 30-year-old has enjoyed a distinguished career in the sport, reaching 24 PSA World Tour finals and winning 14 Tour titles – including 3 Malaysian Open crowns between 2004 and 2010. The Asian Games gold medallist in 2010 and twice winner of the Asian Championship celebrated a career-high world No10 ranking in March 2011.
“It is, of course, a sad moment for me, Malaysian Squash and the Malaysian government. But everyone has taken it in a positive angle as I will be contributing back to the game”, Iskandar said.
PSA CEO Alex Gough said: “It is always a shame when a long-standing player retires from any sport. Azlan has always been one of the hardest trainers on Tour and his fitness levels have been extraordinary over the years. Having reached the top 20 over seven years ago and reaching one of his goals of the top ten in the world last year, he can proud of having scalps such as beating the great Amr Shabana on more than one occasion, not least of all in reaching last year’s Hong Kong Open semi-final, his best result in a World Series event.”
“It was a decision that has been going through my mind for a good six months after I got injured a few times earlier this year. I also set huge, huge, targets when I was 12 and I achieved them all last year and the year before. I found it hard, or have been finding it hard, to find new goals in the heights of squash achievements, per se. Everyone is built differently and throughout my life things are always mapped out in my head and I have targets to set and found it hard to play and just go through the motions and float from tournament to tournament, especially in my position in Malaysia with government funding, knowing that it is tax payers’ money that is supporting part of my career – so I feel it’s not right to do something if I cannot give it 120%!”
Regarding his future plans Iskandar said: “I have tried and just can’t find inspiration apart from setting my next goals that I am passionate about – which are, of course, to give back to my sport SQUASH. I will be working on making sure that the number of courts built in my country doubles; the number of squash events grows; and the popularity and the game’s reach will penetrate the masses and make the sport more accessible in my country as I believe that there is so much to do to help develop the sport.”
Of course there were my most memorable wins – beating a few of the top 10 guys who I don’t need to mention! But, genuinely, it’s been in the last couple of year on the tour that the sport, PSA, WSA and World Squash has grown leaps and bounds, and will continue to make the sport more ‘relevant’ around the world – so I believe that squash has a great chance of making the Olympics in 2020.”
Bye bye Azlan …