Sunday, June 23, 2024

Commonwealth Games: Rachael Grinham flies the flag for Australia in tonight’s opening ceremony

‘I wasn’t expecting this and am in complete shock,’ says Grinham
By ALAN THATCHER (Squash Mad Editor)

Australia’s Rachael Grinham is the latest squash player to be announced as a flag bearer for tonight’s Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games Opening Ceremony.

Aussie legend Grinham, still competing hard at the age of 45, will be a joint flag bearer alongside three-time hockey gold medallist Eddie Ockenden at the Alexander Stadium this evening.

The announcement was broadcast live around Australia on Seven’s Sunrise, and six-time squash representative Grinham couldn’t quite believe the news!

“As an Australian squash player, the Commonwealth Games is the biggest event we can go to,” she told Sunrise.

“I really wasn’t expecting this at all and I am in complete shock at the moment.”

Grinham will be competing in the women’s singles for Australia alongside Donna Lobban and Jess Turnbull. She will be teaming up with Lobban in the women’s doubles and will be partnering Zac Alexander in the mixed doubles.

Grinham, an eight-time Games medallist including two golds, becomes the first Australian squash player to carry the flag.

She has been synonymous with the sport of squash from a teenager who travelled seven days a week from Toowoomba to Brisbane to train before becoming one of the sport’s all-time greatest players.

Rachael Grinham and Eddie Ockenden appear on Sunrise TV in Australia

She made her Games debut in 1998 in Kuala Lumpur as a 21-year-old, winning silver with Robyn Cooper in the women’s doubles – going on to play in 2002, 2006, 2014 and 2018.

It was a sister act at the Melbourne 2006 Games when Rachael paired with sister Natalie to win gold in the women’s doubles.

In the singles, Rachael was runner-up to Natalie in the final. That year Rachael also partnered David Palmer to bronze in the mixed doubles.

Grinham’s partner is England’s Jenny Duncalf, a former world No.2 who who was runner-up to Malaysia’s Nicol David in the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi.

Duncalf is part of the Squash Australia coaching team in Birmingham, assisting head coach Stewart Boswell, who is married to another former England international, Vicky Botwright.

Rachael Grinham and Eddie Ockenden are announced as joint flag bearers in front of the whole Australian team at a special ceremony in Birmingham

Grinham will be joined at tonight’s ceremony by fellow squash flag-bearers Joelle King (on joint flag duties for New Zealand) and 18-year-old Kijan Sultana, who will be doing the honours for Malta.

Three-times gold medal winner Nick Matthew carried the flag for Team England at the 2014 Opening Ceremony in Glasgow.

At 45, Grinham is the second oldest squash competitor in Birmingham. That honour goes to the 50-year-old Marlene West, who will be representing Cayman Islands.

Rachael Grinham and Eddie Ockenden get ready to fly the flag for Team Australia

It is only the second time that Australia has had joint flag-bearers, Ockenden and Grinham joining cycling twins Sal and Remo Sansonetti, who carried the flag in Edmonton, Canada, in 1978.

Tasmanian Ockenden, 35 and Queenslander, Grinham were revealed by Australian Team Chef de Mission, Petria Thomas OAM in the presence of their Excellencies Governor-General, the Honourable David Hurley AC DSC (Retd) and Mrs Linda Hurley and in front of over 300 team members inside the Birmingham University Athletes Village.

Ockenden is the second athlete from hockey to carry the flag, following in the footsteps of another Kookaburras co-captain Mark Knowles who was the flagbearer four years ago on the Gold Coast.

Pictures courtesy of Squash Australia and Andrew Thatcher 


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