Okay, friends and readers...this is a call to action. I would be very grateful if you would go to the Caring Bridge link I am providing and send a message of support to Sivasangari “Sivi” Subramaniam, the Cornell student featured in this column in March after winning the NCAA Division 1 individual squash national championship. Sivi was seriously injured in an automobile accident in her home country of Malaysia a few days ago, and it will be some time before it is known just what lies ahead for the world class squash player.
I spoke to David Palmer, the Sivi's coach at Cornell, and he said, “This was a major shock to all of us.” Given Malaysia is 12 hours ahead of New York, Coach Palmer received one of those chilling middle-of-the-night phone calls that no one ever wants to get. “Wen Li Lai–her teammate here at Cornell who is also from Malaysia–called me and informed me that Sivi was in a car accident, and she was in surgery,” Palmer said. “It was a long night, waiting for further word.”
A few hours later, Palmer was able to connect with his number one player, and he said, “I spoke to her, and while she has serious facial injuries, and a broken cheekbone and jaw, she was able to feel her legs and upper body.” He added, “She also has a small fracture in her C-1 vertebrae, and she will be wearing a body brace for a few weeks. After that, we will see to what extent the injury heals on its own, and it will then be determined whether she will need to have a bolt inserted.” Taking a deep breath after explaining Sivi's situation yet again, David said, “I believe that over the long term she will be back to where she was, or even better.”
As the coach shared more details, I also took a deep breath. While I do not know Sivi, I have daughters, and when I heard that a passerby pulled her out of the car just before it burst into flames, it sent a chill up my spine.
Prior to the accident, Sivi was having an incredible 2022. After reaching the semifinals and finals in her first two seasons, Subramaniam capped off a dominant 19-0 junior year by winning the NCAA individual championship with a dramatic five-game victory over Harvard's Hana Moataz. After that historic accomplishment, she returned home and joined the professional tour. She was number 16 in the world (according to Palmer, “She was close to breaking into the top ten on the pro circuit,”) and she was chosen to be her country's flag bearer at the Commonwealth Games. But that honor will have to wait.
According to Palmer, Sivi has plenty of support on her path to recovery. He said, “It's so ironic that Sivi travels around the world for competitions, and she gets injured so close to home.” I asked David if his initial impulse after getting that jarring phone call was to get on a plane, and he said, “Believe me, it crossed my mind,” and he added, “All things considered, she is in the perfect place, with her mom and dad, and she has tremendous support from the Malaysian Sports Government, and from Cornell.” Palmer called Sivi “one of the biggest sports personalities in Malaysia,” and he added “She is on track to be one of our sport's next superstars.”
Looking ahead, the coach said, “Sivi's plan was to play in the Asian Games, the Commonwealth Games (as well as several pro tournaments) and return to Cornell in the Spring. Right now, we are taking it one week at a time.” He too is grateful that the passerby had the courage and compassion to pull Sivi from the car after the collision with a truck, and he acknowledged that “a lot of things could have gone long-term bad.”
As promised, the Caring Bridge link: www.caringbridge.org/visit/getwellsiva
Please join me in sending well wishes to this Big Red athlete.