PETALING JAYA: Ishant Shah Atul Kumar is determined to make sure his dream to become a professional squash player will not take a backseat despite his remarkable achievement of getting accepted into the prestigious Harvard College.
The Penangite was one of six Malaysians who received admission into the oldest higher learning institution in the United States.
Ishant had already showed his ability to switch seamlessly between squash and studies when he stormed into the Under-17 final of the British Junior Open and also scored 8As and 1B in the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) examinations last year.
An elated Ishant, who will begin his four-year journey in August, said Harvard will be the ideal place for him to remain competitive in squash and eventually become a professional.
The 19-year-old Malaysian will draw inspiration from Egyptian World No. 2 Ali Farag, who is a Harvard graduate, and 24th-ranked Frenchman Victor Croun, who is in his final year at the college.
“It’s unbelievable that I would be going to Harvard which would be the ideal place for me to continue playing squash and eventually become a professional player,” said Ishant.
“Farag was a Harvard graduate while Croun will remain in the top 25 when he graduates soon.
“Their remarkable achievement is a motivating factor for me to become a professional player too.
“I will be able to play Varsity squash alongside Croun and also get to train under top coach Mike Way.”
The Nicol David Academy in Penang has been the training ground for Ishant since he was seven and Aaron Soyza believes his protege will become a role model for youngsters who are willing to excel both in studies and sports.
“Ishant has always been a dedicated and hardworking player who has proven that one does not need to neglect studies to excel in sports,” said Aaron.
“If he can continue to balance his time between squash and studies, he has what it takes to achieve his professional dream.
“His success will also trigger confidence in parents to allow their children to continue pursuing both fields.
“They don’t have to sacrifice sports in order to excel in studies.”