KUALA LUMPUR: National squash player Aifa Azman (pix) is hoping to benefit from constant support service from physiotherapists now that she has been roped into the Fast Track Programme for athletes.

Aifa said that sometimes she had to pay out of her own pocket to hire physiotherapists when playing in individual tournaments overseas because the support service provided by the National Sports Institute is limited.

“One thing I want is physiotherapy support. It’s really important to have one as athletes like us have back-to-back tournaments. I've just recovered from injury so this kind of support is crucial.

“I know it’s not easy to get someone to follow you alone, and hopefully, through this Fast Track Programme I can get physiotherapy support all the time like what Datuk Nicol David used to have,” she said when met at the Squash Racquets Association of Malaysia (SRAM) dinner here last night.

Aifa, who is now ranked 37th in the world, is targeting to regain her career-high ranking of 21st by the end of this year.

Aifa said she had to skip several tournaments in the United States this season after suffering the right knee injury and this has affected her Professional Squash Association (PSA) world rankings.

Apart from Aifa, three other squash players are also listed in the Fast Track Programme, her younger sister Aira, S. Sivasangari and Ng Eain Yow.

The Fast Track Programme is an initiative under the Road To Gold programme to groom talented athletes between 16 and 25 years old who are medal prospects for the Olympic Games in 2028.

Squash will make its Olympics debut in Los Angeles in 2028.

Meanwhile, Aira described her inclusion in the Fast Track Programme as a shot in the arm for her mission to qualify for the 2028 Olympics.

“I am happy to join the programme because it is not easy to be included. We will also get better support,” she said.

Last July, Aira emerged runner-up in the 2023 World Junior Squash Championships in Melbourne after losing 8-11, 5-11, 1-11 to defending champion Amina Orfi of Egypt. -Bernama

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