Facts about Sivasangari Subramaniam

When it comes to the world of squash, it’s hard not to mention the legendary Nicol David. But currently on the rise is 25-year-old Malaysian squash player Sivasangari Subramaniam, who recently clinched the coveted gold medal at the London Classic 2024 – the first Malaysian to do so since David in 2015.

As we congratulate her on her well-deserved success, here are 8 facts about Sivasangari, including how she got her start in squash and made a comeback from a major crash in 2023.

1. She was born in Sungai Petani, Kedah

From Kedah - Facts about Sivasangari Subramaniam
Image credit: @sivasangari via Instagram

Although she is currently based in the US, Sivasangari Subramaniam hails from Sungai Petani, Kedah. She was born on 24th January 1999 to Subramaniam Kaniappan and Valli Nagappan.

While her involvement during her high school studies at SMK Sultanah Asma in Alor Setar was minimal, it was her enrollment at Majlis Sukan Sekolah Malaysia (MSSM) in the year 2011 which welcomed her into the world of squash.

2. She started playing squash professionally at 9 years old

Image credit: New Straits Times

Subramaniam began her budding career holding a squash racket alongside her older brother. At the tender age of 9 years old, she began competing professionally in tournaments, which would help fuel her passion for the sport.

She told Cornell Sun in an interview that she initially objected to furthering her studies abroad, as she was worried that she would “slack off” in the sport. But she decided to travel 9,000 miles from Malaysia to attend the college after learning about its squash team and notable coach.

3. She graduated from an Ivy League school in the US

Graduation - Facts about Sivasangari Subramaniam
Image credit: @sivasangari via Instagram

After completing her studies at MSSM, Subramaniam ventured out of the country to pursue a Bachelor’s degree in Science at Cornell University in New York. Skilfully juggling her academic pursuits with her squash career, she graduated in the year 2023.

Nonetheless, the journey wasn’t an easy one. During her four years at Cornell, she had to jump between competing in matches, practising for games, and studying for exams till late.

She credits most of her successes to the school, attributing her world ranking spot to her coach and mentor David Palmer, the Cornell Squash Coach. Her time at the Ivy League institution also brought her immense recognition, with numerous victories secured.

The achievements include finishing as the runner-up in the Ramsay Cup, and securing a win at the CSA National Collegiate Individual Championships – she became the first Cornell squash player in history to win an individual national championship.

Other notable wins are against Harvard’s top player, Sabrina Sobhy, and an undefeated streak in collegiate matches in the year 2021. She won 19 matches in a row.

4. She has multiple awards & titles under her belt

SEA Games - Facts about Sivasangari Subramaniam
Image credit: @sivasangari via Instagram

Subramaniam continues to soar in the world of squash, highlighted by her first gold win at the Commonwealth Youth Games in 2015. Following suit, she secured a gold medal at the SEA Games in 2017 and a silver at the Asian Games in 2018.

She was also ranked 38th in the Professional Squash Association World Rankings and honoured as the 2018 PSA Young Player of the Year. Her unwavering dedication surely did not go unnoticed, as she earned the Ahli Cemerlang Semangat Jerai award not once, but thrice.

Additionally, she received the Asian Squash Federation Performance Award in 2016 and the College Tuanku Jaafar Outstanding Achievement in Sport award in 2017, underscoring her prowess as a professional squash player.

To top it off, her achievements reached new heights in both 2022 and 2023 when she was named the Ivy-League Player of the Year, solidifying her status as a remarkable athlete.

5. She had to put her career on halt after a major car crash

Recovery - Facts about Sivasangari Subramaniam
Image credit: @sivasangari via Instagram

In 2023, she endured a harrowing accident – she was hit by a car on MEX Highway that left both her and her friend injured, though she bore the brunt of the injuries. Hospitalised for a gruelling two months, she underwent two surgeries during her stay.

Post-surgery, she regained the ability to walk after about a week, despite facing facial injuries and severe damage to her neck. This included the C1 bone perilously close to her spine, which could have jeopardised her squash career.

For approximately two and a half months, Subramaniam had to wear a neck collar. Only after the collar was removed could she commence regular physiotherapy, which spanned two months.

Undeterred by the setback, she embarked on rehabilitation exercises even with the neck collar still in place. Throughout her seven months of recovery, her mother provided unwavering support, diligently caring for her including bathing her.

While she was unable to participate in the 2023 Malaysian Open due to her injuries, Subramaniam embraces the ups and downs of life. Drawing inspiration from watching other squash athletes perform, she remained resilient and dedicated, qualities that ultimately led to her sensational comeback at the 2024 London Classic.

6. She is currently ranked number 13 in the world

Achievements - Facts about Sivasangari Subramaniam
Image credit: @sivasangari via Instagram

Sivasangari Subramaniam is currently the only Asian squash player in the Top 20 list of squash players, according to the Professional Squash Association (PSA) World Tour rankings. She currently places at number 13 as of 2nd April 2024, with 17 tournaments played and 147 wins out of 229 matches.

She was ranked 51 in 2019 when she started her education journey  at Cornell University, and jumped to the prestigious 16th spot while juggling her studies. However, following her absence from international tournaments to recover from her injuries, she ranked 50 in June 2023 and later 29 in November that same year.

7. She was a flag bearer at the 19th Asian Games

Flag raising ceremony - Facts about Sivasangari Subramaniam
Image credit: @sivasangari via Instagram

For athletes, it’s considered a big deal to get to represent the country by being a flag bearer at prestigious sporting events. At the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou, China, Sivasangari was a flag bearer for the 289-member Malaysian contingent alongside national cyclist Shah Firdaus Sahrom.

Sivasangari shared in an Instagram post that “it was a huge honour” to be given the opportunity to bear the Jalur Gemilang for the country, and that the moment was something that she’ll “cherish for a lifetime”.

8. She was crowned champion at the 2024 London Classic

She was initially slated to carry our country’s flag at the Birmingham’s Commonwealth Games in 2023, an event which got cut short for her. However, fate had something else in store for her. A year later, at the London Classic, she triumphed over top players from around the globe.

“There’s no word to summarise it but I’m very pleased with how I handled myself this week by beating the top ten players three times. They’re all really good players”,  Subramaniam said in an interview with Sinar Daily.

With victories over No.4 Nele Gilis of Belgium in the semi-finals and No.1 Nour El Sherbini of Egypt in the quarter-finals, Subramaniam brought her A-game to clinch the championship title after stunning world No.2 Hania El Hammamy of Egypt in the finals on 1st April 2024.

Reflecting upon the unfortunate car crash, she tells New Straits Times, “I always remind myself that if I can come back from what happened last year, I can conquer anything”.

Facts about Sivasangari Subramaniam, Malaysia’s budding squash player

While recovering from a major car crash wasn’t easy for Subramaniam, her relentless effort and passion for sportsmanship elevated her, resulting in her first gold medal win at the 2024 London Classic.

We wish her continued success in her athletic career!

For more sports read, check out 10 Facts about Pandelela Rinong and 13 M’sian athletes who made International news in 2021 

Cover image adapted from: @sivasangari via Instagram

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