‘To be part of the Gold Coast Games was beyond my wildest dreams’
By ALEXIA CLONDA – Squash Mad Australian Correspondent
“My boyhood dream has come true,” said Commonwealth Games wonder Gold Medallist, two-time world champion, David Palmer. Now nearing his 42 second birthday, one of the most accomplished athletes in the sport’s history can finally retire for once and for all.
Officially retiring in 2012 from the PSA World Tour, Palmer had been called upon by Squash Australia to help Australia on a number of occasions to help bolster its national team and funding prospects.
Firstly in 2013 for the World Championships, then again in 2014 for the Glasgow Commonwealth Games. He came back again this past fortnight to spearhead Australia to a successful Commonwealth Games doubles campaign on home soil in Gold Coast in front of packed, enthusiastic crowds at the Oxenford Film Studios.
In 2014 he won gold with Cameron Pilley, beating England’s Nick Matthew and Adrian Grant in the men’s doubles final, and partnered fellow veteran Rachael Grinham in the mixed doubles final, where they beat Peter Barker and Alison Waters of England. In Gold Coast, he partnered Zac Alexander to the men’s doubles title, beating England’s Daryl Selby and Adrian Waller.
In a 26-year period, Palmer’s trophy and medal tally makes impressive reading. Palmer has competed in six Commonwealth Games since squash’s inclusion in 1998, achieving two gold, two silver and four bronze medals.
Palmer said: “Many people had their doubts when I was named in the squad, I had none, I knew I could do it. The Australian Commonwealth Games team is on a high. In front of amazing home crowds, everyone put in 150% and we won medals.
“To be part of it was beyond my wildest dreams. What a high note to finish my playing career! For squash, the focus is now on the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, which may prove to be a bit tricky.
“Squash’s medals come from a 50% of players who were 35 years of age and over. Chances are they may well be retired. That raises many questions.”
A legacy for Squash Australia from the Gold Coast Games will be the utilisation of the six ASB squash courts and the brilliant all-glass show court move to squash’s new training centre at the Carrara Sports Complex in Gold Coast, Queensland.
Palmer added: “This is a great opportunity for a permanent training facility with a glass court in Australia, something we have lacked compared to many other countries that are making an impact on the world rankings.
“I would love to be involved, but, for the sport to truly move forward, things do need to change, now, on and at many levels.”
DAVID PALMER: FACT FILE
DAVID TROY PALMER: Born June 28, 1976. From Lithgow, New South Wales. Now based as a coach in Florida, USA.
Palmer competed on the Professional Squash Association (PSA) tour from 1997-2011, twice reaching a number one world ranking (2001-02, 2006).
During his pro career, he won the PSA Super Series finals in 2002, reached 53 PSA World Tour finals and came away with the title on 27 occasions.
Palmer was a two-time World Champion (in 2002 and 2006). His 2002 World Open final triumph was against fellow Australian John White, who later went on to represent Scotland. Palmer survived a match ball to win 13–15, 12–15, 15–6, 15–14, 15–11. He was runner-up to Amr Shabana in the 2005 World Open final in Hong Kong, and beat Gregory Gaultier in the 2006 final in Qatar, winning 9–11, 9–11, 11–9, 16-14, 11–2. He was one of just seven athletes to claim a world title on more than one occasion.
Palmer won the coveted British Open Championship four times (2001, 2003, 2004, 2008). He won the Qatar Classic four times and the US Open once. He also won the Australian Open in 2008 and the Canary Wharf Classic in 2009.
He was ranked in the top 10 of the PSA for 10 consecutive years (2000-10) before retiring from professional competition in 2012.
Palmer captained the Australian national team six times, leading them to gold medals in the World Team Championships of 2001 (in Melbourne) and 2003 (in Vienna) The Australian men’s team finished runners-up in 2007, and won bronze in 2009 and 2011.
Palmer was named Squash Australia’s Senior Athlete of the Year four times (2006, 2007, 2008, 2014), and was voted the Player of the Decade by his peers.
As a coach, he is helping a number of leading professionals and is largely credited with reviving the fortunes of Egypt’s Mohamed ElShorbagy, who has won the 2017 World Championship while dominating the current season and returning to number one in the PSA world rankings.
(Article written by AEXIA CLONDA and edited by ALAN THATCHER)
EDITOR’S NOTE: We would love to read your tributes to David Palmer, one of the greatest players in the history of squash. Please feel free to post your comments below.
Pictures from Squash Mad archives (with thanks to PSA and WSF)