Squash Mad

Cassie’s Commonwealth Countdown: United in Manchester with David Beckham

Team England move on from Malaysia to Manchester

The new National Squash Centre (below) at the Commonwealth Games venue in Manchester

The new National Squash Centre (below) at the Commonwealth Games venue in Manchester

Cassie Thomas continues her Commonwealth Games countdown with a look back at the opening ceremony ahead of the 2002 event in Manchester, where the squash venue would soon be handed over to the sport as a national centre. 

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So, four years has passed since the Commonwealth Games in 1998 and the Manchester Games are nearly upon us.

I was feeling even more excited having experienced Kuala Lumpur and with the Games being in our own country.

mancyellow02I remember the fantastic support the Malaysians received in their country and I was sure we would experience the same. Also, the very big added bonus was that family and friends would be able to attend.

So, after a training camp in Birmingham, the team of myself, Linda Charman, Fiona Geaves, Tania Bailey, Stephanie Brind, Lee Beachill, Peter Nicol, Chris Walker, Paul Johnson, Mark Chaloner, coaches David Pearson and Paul Carter, manager Matt Hammond and physio Phil Newton caught the train to Manchester.

We settled into the athletes’ village and had a good look round to get our bearings, checking out the food hall, which was as impressive as the one in Kuala Lumpur! We then looked around Sport City.

Next to the main stadium, which looked great, was the new squash centre. It was fantastic and it was exciting to think that this was going to be our National Centre when the Games were over. We were all looking forward to the Opening Ceremony.

becks02The Queen was officially opening the Games and there was a rumour that David Beckham (right) was also going to be part of the ceremony which was getting a few people excited.

As for our uniform for the opening ceremony, which we received along with our other kit, the first thought that came into my mind was Ali G!

A white tracksuit with gold trim with trainers to match, it was certainly different but when we all had it on it looked kind of cool. Though not sure I would be wearing it down my local high street! So all the teams were gathered outside the stadium.

The well-known rain of Manchester thankfully stayed away and each team entered the stadium to what we could hear was a fantastic reception.

Being the host country, Team England would be entering the stadium last. This just added to the occasion and when our time arrived we were all a bit giddy with excitement.

I will never forget the sound from the crowd when Team England entered the stadium. It was deafening and just fantastic and even now thinking about it it brings a smile to my face.

Once we were all in the stadium David Beckham appeared with the baton and if my memory serves me right was wearing the same white/gold tracksuit as we were. Did that make us fashion icons? Maybe not!

The Queen then officially opened the Games and what a fantastic start to the Manchester 2002 Commonwealth Games. Bring on the squash!

Pictures from the Squash Mad archive 

Posted on June 30, 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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