Squash Mad

Cassie’s Commonwealth Countdown: Golden girls in Malaysia

Massive semi-final win over Sarah Fitzgerald and Carol Owens set us up for golden finale

glasgowsquashFormer world champion Cassie  continues her look back at her experiences in the 1998 Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

So once the singles event was finished it was straight into the doubles. With this being the first time doubles was played in the Commonwealth Games it really was an even playing field for everyone.

Each country would have had plenty of practice but once the event started it felt like we were venturing into the unknown. My partner was Sue Wright. Our pairing was decided quite early on by the coaches so we managed to get a decent amount of practice in and felt comfortable with each other.

From our first match I thoroughly enjoyed playing the doubles event. With squash being an individual sport I always enjoyed the atmosphere of team events and doubles seemed like you were playing for a team.

Of course its a small team with just 2 people but you weren’t just playing for yourself and you had a partner who was relying on you and vice versa. This probably brings more pressure but there is always pressure wether you are playing for yourself or for a team.

So we managed to get through the pool matches unscathed and unfortunately found ourselves against our England team-mates Linda Charman and Jane Martin in the quarter finals.

I remember the match being a nervous affair and not very enjoyable at all. We managed to win 2-1 but it seemed bitter-sweet as we had just ended Linda’s and Jane’s chances of winning a medal.

Golden girls Cassie and Sue

Golden girls Cassie and Sue

We then found ourselves facing formidable opposition against Australia’s top pairing of Sarah Fitzgerald and Carol Owens in the semi-finals. With a bronze medal guaranteed and, despite being happy with that, we wanted to go that extra step and a chance to play for a gold medal.

The match really was a battle. We lost the first 15-13 and then found ourselves 14-13 match ball down. Scrambling for our lives we managed to save that match point and go on and win that game 17-14.

This seemed to knock the wind out of Sarah and Carol and we won the third comfortably 15-5.

It was a great feeling to come through a match like that and I believe one of the reasons we did was that we kept talking to each other and encouraging each other throughout the contest.

We knew it was too early to celebrate as we had one more match to go but I was excited and I remember not getting much sleep that night.

The fact that we had a chance to win a gold medal, who wouldn’t be excited and, of course, slightly nervous?

Our opponents were the other Aussie pairing of Robyn Cooper and Rachael Grinham (who is now amazingly going to compete in Glasgow).

Once we were on court the nerves were gone and we managed to win 2-0. It really was an unbelievable feeling to win the gold medal and standing on the podium with Sue listening to our national anthem is something I will never forget.

A good night partying was had by all at the closing ceremony and then the next morning we flew home.

Those two weeks at the Commonwealth Games was such a fantastic experience with memories that will last a lifetime.We couldn’t wait for Manchester in 2002.

 

Pictures from the Squash Mad archive 

Posted on June 18, 2014

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About The Author

Cassie Thomas

Cassie Thomas (nee Jackman) is a former World champion and England number one. She won six British national titles and became World champion in 1999 after beating Michelle Martin in the World Open final in Seattle. With Sue Wright, she won a gold medal in the 1998 Commonwealth Games in Malaysia. Now married to cricketer Matt Thomas, she lives in Australia. The couple have two daughters.

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