Commonwealth Games 2006

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Squash Medal Table



 Australia 3 3 2
 England 2 1 2
 New Zealand 0 1 1

Day 7 and onwards
Doubles for pages

John Murray reporting from Melbourne
Gold Treble for Nicol
Peter Nicol has completed the final chapter of a fairytale story to win a second Commonwealth Games singles gold medal. The veteran Englishman wound back the clock to beat top seed David Palmer 9-5, 10-8, 4-9, 9-2.

Playing in his third consecutive Commonwealth Games final, Nicol was unfazed by the patriotic home crowd at the Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre, as he added another gold to the one he had claimed in Kuala Lumpur in 1998. Both men had enjoyed strong semi-final wins to progress to the gold medal match. And this being the Commonwealth Games, it wasn’t simply a case of one opponent against another.

This was the might of the old empire against the best the home nation had to offer. This was the white shirt of Nicol against the green shorts and gold top of Palmer. England v Australia yet again in the squash – and for the umpteenth time in these Games.

From an early stage in the match, Nicol took control of proceedings. He dominated for large parts of the first game, winning 9-5. The second game was much closer but, unfortunately for Palmer, ended in the same result. 10-8 to Nicol.

With the gold medal almost around his neck, Nicol led early in third game before the Australian managed to fight his way back into the match. He levelled the game at 3-3 and moved ahead once the players had returned to the court after the match was stopped for the blood rule against Nicol.

Finally, the passionate home crowd began to stir. The more they roared, the better Palmer played. He took the game 9-4.

Yet any fears of an heroic Australian comeback quickly subsided.

Nicol reassumed control in the fourth game, as his opponent made more and more errors. At one point, Palmer even flung himself across the court, throwing his racquet at the ball, but to no avail.

With every point won, Nicol clenched his fists and shouted “C’mon”. 3-1 became 4-1; 5-2 became 6-2. And, not long after, it was 9-2. Game over. Gold medal won.

At the end, Nicol sunk to his knees, thumped his fists against the glass and clutched his head in his hands, scarcely able to believe what he had achieved.

“It meant everything to me,” Nicol revealed immediately after the match.

“It was one of the last tournaments I’m ever going to play in, and certainly the biggest one I’m going to play in at the end of my career.

“I was very, very tired going into that fourth game, but I think I played the best game of my career.”

In the battle for family domination, Natalie Grinham overcame her higher-ranked sister Rachael to take gold with a 2-9, 9-6, 9-1, 9-6 win in 43 minutes.

“I was just trying to focus on my game and not think about the fact that I was playing against my sister,” the gold medallist revealed afterwards.

In the bronze medal men’s match, Lee Beachill atoned for his disappointing semi-final loss to David Palmer with a convincing win against compatriot Nick Matthew.

Beachill took the first game 9-3 and, after that, the result was never in a doubt. The 9-3, 9-7, 9-3 loss was a disappointing end for Matthew, who had shown some sparkling form in previous rounds.

Meanwhile, in the women’s draw, Shelley Kitchen scored her third major upset in five days when she claimed bronze against Nicol David. The New Zealander, who had already knocked out Jenny Duncalf and Vicky Botwright, beat the world No. 1 5-9, 9-6, 9-5, 9-2.

The players will have a day’s rest before the doubles tournaments get under way on Wednesday. 

Lee Beachill of England returns a shot to Stewart Boswell of Australia during their men's singles match.

Steve Line in Melbourne
Pictures from the Gallery

Peter Nicol takes Gold in Singles final knocking Australia's David Palmer into Silver Position


Karak the Mascot With Australian Prime Minister John Howard.
He is called 'Karak' after his distinctive birdcall. This native bird was chosen because he embodies the spirit of the Games. He is uniquely Australian and welcoming to all.

DAY FOUR Evening
John Murray reporting from Melbourne
England v Australia for men's singles final
England and Australia will do battle in the final of the men’s singles at the Commonwealth Games after David Palmer ended Lee Beachill’s challenge on Sunday night.

The top seed will face off against Peter Nicol, who eliminated teammate Nick Matthew in the afternoon session.

No. 8 seed Beachill was aiming to make it the first all-England final in Games history, having already claimed one Australian scalp when he knocked out Stewart Boswell in the quarter-finals.

However, Palmer had too much power, too much precision and too many answers for his English counterpart, in the end winning comfortably 9-0, 9-4, 9-4.

If current form was anything to go by, there was little to split the international rivals going into their semi-final clash.

Palmer, who had a heavily strapped right knee and carried an illness into the tournament, had not enjoyed the smoothest progress to the semi-finals.

In contrast, Beachill had shown blistering form, not losing a game on his way to the last four.

That soon changed when Palmer blitzed the first game 9-0, showing no sign of any problems with his knee.

In fact, the biggest fight Beachill put up in the first game was with the referee after Palmer was controversially awarded a point. But, just as in that game, he didn’t get anywhere.

The hometown crowd didn’t know what to make of it. Yes, Australians are as patriotic as the come, but they want to see a contest.

There was a strangely subdued atmosphere around the Show Court. It was only when the cleaners came on to the court at the start of the second game to the tune of the John Farnham classic ‘Sadie The Cleaning Lady” that the crowd began to get into the swing of things.

And Beachill started to fire up too, immediately after both players requested a change of ball. He claimed his first point to take the game to 1-1 and then showed great resilience to fight his way back into the match.

For an age, the score was locked at 3-3, as Beachill displayed some magnificent defence to hang on in several rallies.

Unfortunately, it couldn’t last. Playing a succession of deft drop shots, Palmer broke free of the Beachill shackles and won the game 9-4.

The Australian carried that form into the third game which, despite Beachill’s best efforts, he dominated. After another close start, the inevitable happened when Palmer pulled off several points in a row to seal the game 9-4 – and the match in 55 minutes.

While Beachill faces a bronze medal play-off against Nick Matthew, Palmer will hope to break English hearts again in his match against Nicol.

Speaking after his victory over Matthew, Nicol said he was feeling good about his game.

“I am very confident and I can’t wait for the next match,” he revealed.

“The game is getting quicker and tougher, as I am getting older, but it means a lot to me because we have such a good team spirit.

“I want to face someone from my own team. I want one of us to get a gold medal.”

He may not have got his wish to play Beachill, but the whole of England will be praying the veteran can conjure a fairytale end to his Commonwealth Games career.

In the second women’s semi-final, Rachael Grinham ensured the gold medal match would be a family affair when she steamrolled New Zealand’s Shelley Kitchen. The No. 2 seed booked her place in the final against sister Natalie with a 10-8, 9-4, 9-2 win in the battle of the Tasman.

Kitchen, who had stunned higher ranked English pair Jenny Duncalf and Vicky Botwright in the previous rounds, could not reproduce her giant-killing form.

Some of the crowd hadn’t even settled into their seats at the Show Court by the time Grinham had thundered to a 6-0 lead in the opening game.

A whitewash looked on the cards, but then the No.9 seed, who dwarfs her opponent in size, began to produce the big shots and fantastic court coverage that have served her so well in this tournament.

Suddenly, 6-0 became 6-5. Shortly after, the pair were locked at 7-7. And before Grinham knew what was happening, Kitchen held two game balls at 8-7.

Both were squandered – and so, realistically, were her chances for the match.

Grinham regained her composure to take the game 10-8 and then, once again, surged into a 6-0 lead in the second game. This time, there would be no comeback from Kitchen. The New Zealander made a flurry of errors and went down 9-4.

Now in total control, Grinham quickly finished a disappointingly one-sided affair 9-2 in the third game.

Such was the ease of Grinham’s victory – it took just 37 minutes – the large Australian crowd rarely had a chance to exercise their vocal cords.

That will come on Monday when the Grinham sisters do battle for the first time in international competition.

“We can relax now because one of us will win a gold medal,” she said immediately after her win.

“Before the game, we’ll follow our usual routine by having breakfast together. We couldn’t have had a better result.”

Meanwhile, Kitchen must pick herself up for the bronze medal clash with Nicol David, something she is looking forward to.

“I’m really happy to have got through to this stage,” she said.

“I will just go out there and do my best.”

DAY FOUR Afternoon
John Murray reporting from Melbourne

Peter Nicol on Course for 2nd Singles Games Gold
Peter Nicol is just one step away from winning an historic second Commonwealth Games singles gold medal after defeating fellow countryman Nick Matthew in the semi-finals.

The 1998 gold medallist lost the first game but fought back to land a convincing 3-9, 9-5, 9-4, 9-5 win. The result means that Nicol will take part in his third consecutive Commonwealth Games gold medal match.

For the defeated Matthew, there is the consolation of the bronze medal match against either David Palmer or Lee Beachill on Monday.

Although both players were flying the English flag, in appearance they could hardly have been more different as they walked onto the Show Court at the Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre.

The right-handed Matthew wore a red-and-white collared shirt; the left-handed Nicol a plain white T-shirt. Matthew’s shoes were white; Nicol’s predominantly black.

Matthew had ENGLAND written on the back of his shirt, while his opponent opted for P NICOL ENG. By rights, it should have been Matthew who let everyone know his name.

While the entire crowd was familiar with Nicol and his long list of achievements, they seemed less sure about the man who had stunned No. 2 seed James Willstrop on Saturday.

However, it was Matthew who drew first blood in the opening game. After a marathon first point that eventually ended in a let, he established an early lead before closing out the first game 9-3.

Yet anyone thinking Nicol would tamely bow out without a fight in what is surely his last Commonwealth Games was sorely mistaken.

He quickly found his feet in the second game and, often leaving his shot selection to the last possible moment, was soon back on level terms. The veteran led 7-2 before holding off a Matthew-fightback to win the game 9-5.

That pattern continued in the crucial third game. Nicol burst into a 7-1 lead over his shell-shocked opponent. Once again, Matthew clawed his way back, but the margin was too great.

After a clinical drop shot clinched the third 9-4, Nicol clenched his fist, no doubt realising he was just one game away from a tilt at gold.

With the victory line in sight, Nicol unleashed some exquisite shots to canter into a 4-0 lead. And, for the third time in the match, Matthew refused to roll over and reduced the deficit to 4-3.

But, unlike the previous day when he came back from the dead against Willstrop, there was no Houdini stunt this time. Following some more closely fought rallies, Nicol broke away to lead 8-4 and, on his third match ball, sealed the win.

Earlier in the afternoon, Natalie Grinham pulled off one of the shocks of the tournament when she knocked out top seed and world No. 1 Nicol David.

The Australian delighted the home fans, edging a terrific tussle on the Show Court 9-10, 9-7, 4-9, 9-6, 9-3 to progress to the gold medal match.

Not only was David battling an inspired opponent, but also a raucous home crowd.

Every point won by Grinham was greeted by rapturous applause; every point lost met with groans of disappointment, plus a couple of lone Malaysian flags waving in the grandstand.

Each time David moved ahead, Grinham pegged her back.

The top seed took the first game, Grinham the second. The Malaysian claimed the third, the Australian the fourth. But it was the home favourite who took control of the deciding game.

Grinham opened up a 4-0 lead before David responded by winning the next three points. They would be her last.

Just a like a racehorse that doesn’t know when it’s beaten, Grinham surged again. While her opponent battled with cramp, the Australian outsider cruised to the finish line, closing out the match 9-3.

Unable to control her frustration, David hurled her racquet across court at the end before congratulating Grinham with a hug.

“I did my best and I tried to take control of the game, but she took advantage of everything,” David admitted after the match.

Grinham revealed the home crowd played a huge part in her win.

“That’s my game and the crowd helped. Everyone’s cheering and that really, really helped me a lot, so thanks to everyone,” she said.

John Murray reporting from Melbourne
Nick Matthew has an astonishing comeback to beat James Willstrop in Quarter Final clash

Nick Matthew pulled off an astonishing comeback to beat James Willstrop and set up an all-England semi-final with Peter Nicol.

Trailing 8-2 in the must-win fourth game, Matthew somehow fought back to take the match into a deciding game before eventually winning 9-3, 3-9, 8-10, 10-8, 9-5.

By contrast, Nicol enjoyed a far easier path into the last four of the men’s singles, eliminating Canadian Graham Ryding in three games.

And Lee Beachill ensured England would field three of the four semi-finalists after a convincing defeat of Australia’s Stewart Boswell

However, it was a different story in the women’s draw, where England’s three representatives crashed out at the quarter-final stage. Vicky Botwright suffered a shock loss to Shelley Kitchen, while Tania Bailey and Linda Elriani bowed out after valiant efforts against top-seeded duo Nicol David and Rachael Grinham.

It will be a long time before any of the crowd at the Show Court in the Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre forgets the pulsating clash between Willstrop and Matthew.

Sporting a red-and-white top, Matthew started the brighter against Willstrop, who was kitted out in an all-white shirt with his, by now, obligatory headband. The British national champion took the first game 9-3, before his doubles partner responded by taking the second by the same score.

The sparring over, now it was time for the real fireworks.

No. 2 seed Willstrop produced some exquisite stroke-play to take control of the crucial third game, but the tenacious Matthew would not lie down and kept fighting back in rallies he had no right to win. Little did we realise this was a mere precursor to what was to follow.

Eventually, Willstrop prevailed 10-8 thanks to a delightful drop volley and, evidently buoyed by that triumph, raced into a commanding lead in the fourth game.

Matthew finally came to his senses when facing an 8-2 deficit. His medal hopes seemingly in tatters, he scrapped, sprinted and sweated for every point. Time and again, he denied Willstrop when victory was in his grasp. And, ever so slowly, he clawed his way back into the match.

As Matthew’s Lazarus-esque miracle gradually took shape, the largely hometown crowd began to sense something special was happening.

Soon, we heard the first Lleyton Hewitt-style “C’mon” from one particularly vocal Australian. Within seconds, “C’mon, Nick” echoed from all four grandstands.

On no less than six occasions, Willstrop held match ball. But to no avail. By the time, Matthew had squared the game at 8-8, there was no stopping him. A minute later, it was 10-8, and a fifth game would be required.

With Willstrop visibly affected by the turnaround, Matthew carved out a 5-1 lead in the decider. But still, there would be one more twist.

Willstrop drew on all the energy he had left to come back to 5-5, at one point flinging himself across the court in a desperate bid to keep a point alive.

But the comeback kid would not be denied. Matthew re-established control and closed out the match 9-5 at the first time of asking.

The victor raised his arms to the skies, scarcely able to believe what he had achieved. Willstrop cut a contrasting figure, slumped motionless against the wall.

Speaking after the match, Matthew was delighted with the result.

“It’s fantastic. I’m in with a medal chance and I think anyone who gets through to the semis has a good chance of winning,” he said.

Understandably, Willstrop found the loss hard to stomach.

“I’ve done so much work, but every time it’s different and there will never be a perfect preparation,” he said.

“I spilt blood out there and that’s what I came to do. I didn’t win and I’m absolutely devastated.”

Matthew’s victory guaranteed there would be an English representative in the men’s gold medal match after Peter Nicol had booked his semi-final spot earlier in the day.

The veteran continued his impressive showing in the tournament with a 9-5, 9-1, 9-3 defeat of Graham Ryding. Now only Matthew stands in his way of reaching a third consecutive Commonwealth Games singles final.

While the Matthew-Willstrop clash lasted 75 minutes, Nicol was back the dressing room within 44 minutes.

Nevertheless, he admitted Ryding made him work hard for the win.

“It was a long, hard game. It was close, even though the scores don’t reflect that,” Nicol said.

“I’m winning, so I’m happy.”

A sentiment shared by Lee Beachill, presumably. The No. 5 seed has arguably been the most impressive of all the competitors in the men’s draw.

He was rarely troubled in his quarter-final match against Australian Stewart Boswell, who looked a shadow of the player that stunned Anthony Ricketts in the previous round.

After slipping to a 4-1 deficit at the start of the match, Beachill quickly found his feet and didn’t lose another point in the first game.

It was a similar story in the second. In fact, the only disruption to Beachill’s progress was when the cleaners came on court after a Boswell tumble. He took the second game 9-3 and, not too long after, rounded out the match 9-4, 9-3, 9-3.

Beachill is yet to drop a game this tournament and has only conceded 23 points in his three matches to date. However, he will face a far tougher task in the semi-final when he takes on No. 1 seed David Palmer, who saw off Scotland’s John White 2-9, 10-8, 9-6, 9-0.

The English women will have to focus their attention on the doubles after all three remaining competitors failed to progress to the semi-finals.

Linda Elriani looked poised to cause an upset when she burst out of the blocks against Rachael Grinham. The veteran stole the first game 9-1, silencing the home crowd in the progress.

However, it wasn’t long before the familiar “oi, oi, oi” chants resurfaced around the Show Court, as Grinham responded by taking the second game 9-5.

From there, it was fairly plain sailing for the No. 2 seed, who closed out the match 1-9, 9-5, 9-5, 9-3.

Grinham’s semi-final opponent will be New Zealand’s Shelley Kitchen, who scored a major upset win over Vicky Botwright. After dominating for long periods of the first game, Botwright squandered a strong position to lose 10-8. That clearly encouraged her opponent, who raced into an 8-0 lead in the next game.

Following a brief Botwright comeback, Kitchen closed out that game before racing away with the third to win 10-8, 9-5, 9-1 in just 39 minutes. It was her second English scalp in two days after Friday’s victory over Jenny Duncalf.

Tania Bailey was the third English woman to fall on Saturday, although she can be proud of her effort against world No. 1 Nicol David. The Malaysian star advanced to the semis with a 9-6, 10-9, 9-3 win, but it was often a closely fought encounter, particularly in the second game where Bailey had several game balls.

“Obviously, I was disappointed to lose the second game,” Bailey reflected after the match.

“It was really frustrating that I couldn’t finish off those game points. She makes me work so hard.”

David will now play Australian Natalie Grinham, who beat Northern Ireland’s Madeline Perry in four games. 

John Murray reporting from Melbourne
English Contingent on Track for Quarter Final's Berth
It was another highly successful afternoon for the English contingent when the squash got under way on day two of the Commonwealth Games.

The four English competitors in action all booked their quarter-finals berths and, once again, each one got through without dropping a game.

Fans at the Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre had their first sight of James Willstrop on court. After receiving two byes into the last 16, the No. 2 seed sealed his place in the quarter-finals with a convincing 9-0, 9-7, 9-1 win over Welshman Gavin Jones.

1998 gold medallist Peter Nicol was also in fine form, crushing Canada’s Matthew Giuffre 9-2, 9-2, 9-0 to keep his bid for a third singles medal alive.

Things weren’t quite as plain sailing for British national champion Nick Matthew. After a first-game slog that lasted 29 minutes, he finally overcame Malaysia’s Beng Hee Ong 9-4, 9-2, 9-7, in just over an hour.

With Vicky Botwright, Linda Elriani and Jenny Duncalf all playing in the evening session, Tania Bailey was flying the flag for the English women. And she flew it with pride.

Bailey continued the strong form she had shown in winning the British national championships when she crushed Australian Amelia Pittock 9-2, 9-2, 9-1. England 1 Australia 0, if you like.

Bailey’s game lasted just 20 minutes, the same amount of time it took top seed Nicol David to dispose of Runa Reta 9-0, 9-0, 9-3, sending out an ominous warning to all her rivals.

John Murray reporting from Melbourne
1st Round Victory for all Eight England Stars
There was much to lose and little to gain for England’s stars when the first day of the squash singles competition got under way at the Melbourne Commonwealth Games.

But for the four Englishmen and four English women competing at the Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre, every outcome was the same – victory, and a place in the last 16.

Even better, none of them lost a game, while one didn’t even take to the court.

Of all the English medal hopes, No. 2 seed James Willstrop will be the freshest after receiving a bye into the final 16. His opponent, Scotland’s Harry Leitch, was forced to withdraw from their scheduled second-round clash due to an aggravated adductor tear.

Peter Nicol made a solid start in his bid to add a third singles medal to the gold and silver he won in Kuala Lumpur and Manchester. The former world champion overcame South African Rodney Durbach 9-5, 9-1, 9-1.

Another veteran, Lee Beachill, also enjoyed success against a South African opponent. He beat Craig Van Der Wath 9-1, 9-2, 9-1 in 28 minutes.

Completing the quartet of victories in the men’s singles,

British national champion Nick Matthew impressed with a 9-2, 9-1, 9-2 defeat of Zambian Chiluba Chilfuya.

Others to make it through to the last 16 included home-town hopes Anthony Ricketts and David Palmer. The latter, who is the No. 1 seed, saw off the challenge of Welshman David Evans in an entertaining, sometimes fiery, encounter on the main court.

That match was followed by a tense battle between Canadian Shahier Razik and Guernsey’s Chris Simpson. After Razik took the first game 9-3, Simpson hit back to win the second 9-2. However, Razik responded by winning the third game 9-3 and the fourth 9-6 on his third match ball.

With the top two seeds in the women’s singles, Nicol David and Rachael Grinham, both enjoying byes into the last 16, the spotlight was on English medal prospects Vicky Botwright and Linda Elriani.

Both lived up to expectation. Botwright crushed Zambian Sharon Chimfwembe 9-0, 9-1, 9-3, while Elriani beat Karen Anderson of Jamaica 9-4, 9-2 in just over 15 minutes.

There was also success for Tania Bailey, who eased past South African Diana Argyle 9-3, 9-1, 9-0. Meanwhile, in the battle of north v south, Jenny Duncalf comfortably accounted for Scotland’s Louise Philip 9-2, 9-3, 9-0.

Yet, arguably the performance of the day came from South African Tenille Swartz. Ranked a lowly 169th in the world, she stunned New Zealand’s Tamsyn Leevey, who boasts a world ranking of 32.

And it was a special day for Australia’s Natalie Grinham, who celebrated her 28th birthday with a 9-0, 9-0, 9-1 win over Chantelle Day.

With a spot in the quarter-finals up for grabs on Friday, any celebrations – both for Grinham and the English team – will have to be put on hold for now.


Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre (MSAC)
Date Session Time Session Description
March 16
10am-2pm Men's and Women's Singles Matches
5pm-9:30pm Men's Singles and Plate Matches
March 17
1pm-4pm Men's and Women's Singles and Plate Matches
6pm-9pm Men's and Women's Singles and Plate Matches
March 18
1pm-4pm Men's and Women's Singles and Plate Matches
6pm-9pm Men's and Women's Singles and Plate Matches
March 19
1pm-4:30pm Men's and Women's Singles and Plate Matches
(Semi Finals)
6pm-8:30pm Men's and Women's Singles and Plate Matches
(Semi Finals)
March 20
1pm-5:30pm Men's and Women's Plate Matches, Men's and Women's Singles Bronze Medal Matches
7pm-10pm Men's and Women's Singles Gold Medal Matches
March 22
11am-1:30pm Men's and Mixed Doubles Pool Matches
6pm-8:30pm Men's and Mixed Doubles Pool Matches
March 23
11am-2:30pm Men's, Women's and Mixed Doubles Pool Matches
6pm-9:30pm Men's and Mixed Doubles Pool Matches
March 24
11am-1:30pm Men's, Women's and Mixed Doubles Quarter Finals
6pm-8pm Men's Doubles Quarter Finals
March 25
11am-1pm Women's and Mixed Doubles Semi Finals
6pm-8pm Men's Doubles Semi Finals
March 26
10am-3pm Men's, Women's and Mixed Doubles Bronze Medal Matches, Men's, Women's and Mixed Doubles Gold Medal Matches
John Murray in Melbourne
The school holidays have been brought forward two weeks, the Australian Football season has been pushed back two weeks, and so has the Formula One Grand Prix. In fact, the only people who have refused to change their dates are U2.

Yes, Commonwealth Games fever has engulfed Melbourne, so much so that the upcoming concerts from the Irish rockers will be little more than a supporting act.

Renowned for its love of sport, sport and more sport, Melbourne is whetting its tastebuds for a 12-day feast in March.

Athletes from 72 countries will compete in 16 sports at 16 different venues. And nowhere will the action be more intense than on the squash court

After impressive showings in previous Games, England’s 10-strong team, led by Peter Nicol, will be confident of bringing home a healthy haul of medals

For Nicol, the Games have always been synonymous with success. And if his recent form hasn’t been as strong as previous years, he will surely take inspiration from his past feats.

Eight years ago in Kuala Lumpur, Nicol snared the singles gold, albeit wearing the colours of the Scottish flag. Four years later in Manchester – now with the St George’s Cross on his back – he had to settle for silver after losing out to Jonathon Power. However, he soon put that disappointment behind him when he teamed up with Lee Beachill to take out gold in the men’s doubles.

With defending champion Power not here to defend his title, Nicol will fancy his chances, as will teammates Beachill, James Willstrop and newly crowned National champion Nick Matthew.

Provided she has recovered from a foot injury, world No. 5 Vicki Botwright will lead the charge to become England’s first female singles gold medallist. Dayton Open winner Linda Elriani is also in contention, and don’t rule out comeback queen Tania Bailey, the former world No. 4 who bounced back to become National champion in February.

In all, England has won three golds and a flurry of minor medals since squash was introduced to the Commonwealth Games in 1998. There’s every chance that the team will add to that tally, but there will be numerous obstacles along the way.

While many stars of the athletics and swimming world will be absent from Melbourne, the same can hardly be said for squash.

Along with Power, Egypt’s Amr Shabana and Frenchman Thierry Lincou are the only men missing from the world top 10, while the Netherlands’ Vanessa Atkinson is the one notable absentee from the women’s draw.

With such strong fields on both sides of the draw, it’s easy to understand why the Games are held in such high regard.

Sarah Fitz-Gerald, the five-time world champion who won practically every honour the game has to offer, rates her gold medal from Manchester among her finest achievements.

“If you are talking to someone who comes from Spain or Argentina, they don’t even comprehend the Commonwealth Games,” Fitz-Gerald said.

“But within the world of squash, a Commonwealth Games gold medal is literally a world championship, because with both the men and the women you’re only missing the odd one or two players, so it basically is a world title.”

Fitz-Gerald believes her Commonwealth title will probably be won by one of two women

“At the moment in the women’s, it’s looking good for Nicol David and Rachael Grinham. Rachael is Australia’s big hope. I would say those two are probably the biggest contenders,” she revealed.

The destiny of the men’s gold medal looks far less clear-cut, although some traditional England v Australia rivalry is, of course, guaranteed.

The English contingent can expect some fierce competition from David Palmer, who recently returned to the top of the world rankings, as well as Australian Open champion Anthony Ricketts.

And there’s sure to be plenty of support for the hometown heroes at the Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre.

According to Victoria Squash Federation Executive Officer Paul Vear, ticket sales have been very encouraging.

“There’s 2000 seats in the stadium and most have been sold. The final day sold out very quickly,” he said.

What’s more, the matches will be played in a brand new, purpose-built, all-glass show court.

“It’s the first ever transportable glass court that can be transformed from singles mode into doubles mode,” Vear explained.

A great venue for what shapes to be a great 11 days of competition. Five gold medals are up for grabs, with the men’s, women’s and mixed doubles to be decided on the final day of the Games.

And if all that’s not enough for Melbourne’s sport-saturated fans, they can always dance the night away to a certain Irish rock band.

Australia, NZ share squash crown
Australia and New Zealand have shared the glory on the final day of the third World Doubles Squash Championships held at the Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre, the Squash venue of the Melbourne Commonwealth Games.


Australia won both gold and silver in the Mixed event with Australian Open Champion Rachael Grinham and former world number 10 Joseph Kneipp outgunning Aussie youngsters Amelia Pittock and Cameron Pilley.


The outcome could have been very different when Ms Grinham was required to leave the court in the final game with a leg injury. After a lengthy break and considering their options, the number one seeds continued on to take the final two points and the world Mixed title.


New Zealand struck gold in the Women’s Doubles final when second seeded Kiwis Shelley Kitchen and Tamsyn Leevey overcame the giant killers of the tournament, Australians Sarah Fitz-Gerald and Robyn Cooper.


Then Australia made it a double gold championship when top seeded Anthony Ricketts and Stewart Boswell recovered from two games to love down to defeat fellow Aussies and second seeded Dan Jenson and Joseph Kneipp to take the Men’s Doubles crown.


The Commonwealth Games Squash competition begins on Thursday 16 March and concludes on Sunday 26 March.

Manchester Games 2002
Gold medallist Sarah Fitz-Gerald and bronze medallist Rachael Grinham