‘Competing in Glasgow was the best two weeks of my career but I’m sure Birmingham will also be special,’ says Lobban
By ALAN THATCHER – Squash Mad Editor
Scotland have high hopes of success in the Commonwealth Games after announcing a six-player squad packed with experience and youthful promise.
With just under 50 days to go until the 2022 Commonwealth Games, held in Birmingham from July 28 to August 8, Scotland will be hoping to build on the recent success in the World Doubles Championship staged in Scotstoun, which was the squash venue for the hugely inspirational 2014 Games in Glasgow.
The squash squad for Birmingham 2022 results in a fourth Commonwealth Games appearance for Alan Clyne and a third for Greg Lobban and Lisa Aitken as they are named alongside Georgia Adderley, Rory Stewart and Douglas Kempsell, all making their debuts.
Confidence across the team is high after a sensational World Doubles Championships in April, which saw Scotland take silver and bronze in the men’s event, bronze in the mixed event and fifth place in the women’s.
The selection of six athletes over the expected four is a sign of the high quality of squash played this year and the great results achieved.
They join 50 athletes across seven sports including badminton, boxing, judo, netball, para-powerlifting, squash and triathlon.
The more experienced members of the team are relishing the chance to pull on the Scotland jersey again at the Commonwealth Games and lead the way for the team. Although this is third Games for Lobban, he is not taking the opportunity for granted.
Lobban said: “It’s great to be selected. I’m really looking forward to being part of the team again. To represent Scotland at the Commonwealth Games is the pinnacle for squash players.
“The Games only come round once in four years and so to be picked as part of the collective Team Scotland is special. These Games are unlike any other event, so just to be part of something with all the best athletes in Scotland is a privilege.
“Looking back at my career, competing at a Commonwealth Games in Glasgow was incredible – the noise and buzz was unbelievable. It was the best two weeks of my sporting career, but I’m sure Birmingham will be very special in its own way.
“Naturally I’ll be pushing hard for a medal in the singles and I’ve got really exciting partners in the doubles with Lisa and Rory. I enjoy playing with them and we have already enjoyed success at the World Doubles. We’re going in confident, knowing we can do some damage.
“My approach to these games won’t be too different from other major events. I’m 29 now so I have a lot of experience under my belt, I know how to prepare and how I should approach it from physical and mental standpoint.
“I work closely with my coaches in Australia and in Scotland. Myself, Rory and Lisa will be spending a lot of time discussing, analysing matches for the doubles to ensure we maximise our performance on the day. I can’t wait.”
Meanwhile, Alan Clyne, Scotland’s most experienced player commented: “It was a stressful wait for selection as even though we performed well at the World Doubles in April, it was not certain how many squash players would be selected. It was very exciting when I got the call a couple of weeks ago whilst I was in Egypt preparing for a tournament.
“I count myself as extremely privileged to be able to represent Scotland. The Commonwealth Games is a huge event. For me, as a squash player, it’s the pinnacle. So it will be an honour to wear the Scottish colours in Birmingham.
“This will be my fourth Commonwealth Games. My first one in Delhi was great as it was the first time I’d competed in an event of that scale but obviously the Glasgow Games in 2014 was just another level. Having the home crowd backing us was an unbelievable feeling and I hope that with these Games being in Birmingham, the Scots will still get a great support and spur us on.
“I’m really looking forward to being amongst all the world class athletes on Team Scotland in the village. I’ve seen it before that when the team can get some winning momentum it can feed through the rest of the team and it’s an amazing feeling and honour to be a part of.
“In terms of preparation, I have been spending the majority of my time in the past year training in Philadelphia and it’s been a great base but a big focus of our preparation for Birmingham will be in doubles.
“My men’s doubles partner Dougie Kempsell lives and works in Edinburgh, so we will be training in Edinburgh and Glasgow for five weeks before the Games. Doubles is not something that is a large focus throughout the season, so it’s important to get a lot of work in together on court against different styles of opponents and allow our games to play to each other’s strengths to make us the best prepared team we can be.”
Kempsell had narrowly missed out on previous Games so was delighted to be picked for Birmingham. As the only part-time player in the team – Douglas works as a chef – his selection is testament to Team Scotland’s positive approach to selection: If you’re good enough you get picked.
Kempsell said: “It feels incredible to be selected for the Commonwealth Games. Our national coach Paul Bell called me and to be honest I wasn’t sure if it was good news. As I’m no longer on the PSA Tour and playing less competitive squash, to be given an opportunity to compete at such a high level on the world stage feels incredible.
“I currently run my own business, so it’s been a challenge balancing my training around the work. I’ve been training hard over the last few weeks to give myself the best chance of being selected, so it’s great that all the hard work has paid off.
“Having never been part of the Commonwealth team it will be a bit of new experience. I’m just looking forward to getting stuck in and bringing home a medal.”
Scotland’s second debutant Georgia Adderley competed at her first World Doubles in Glasgow in April and her impressive rise up the PSA ranking has cemented her position as one of one of Scottish Squash’s rising stars. Georgia has dreamed of competing at a Commonwealth Games since she was 16.
Adderley said: “I got pretty emotional when I got the call from our coach Paul Bell. I was so excited! I’ve been working towards Commonwealth Games selection since I was 15 or 16.
“Representing Scotland is the best feeling and to do it in a multi-sport event in front of the world is so exciting. I’m also looking forward to being part of the wider Scotland team and all the athletes across different sports.
“It will be great to compete again with our World Doubles team. We get on so well and I’m looking forward to playing with Lisa and Rory to bring home some medals. I’d like to say a huge thank you to all my coaches and sponsors and to my family and friends for helping and being there through the ups and the downs.”
Maggie Still, CEO of Scottish Squash said: “It’s fantastic that squash will be well represented at this year’s Commonwealth Games, with six places achieved. This allows us to bring in the next generation of players, who now get the chance to compete on the world stage. This is invaluable experience and will put the team in good stead for the future.
“The players have been doing everything possible to be in the best shape for the games and it is great to see the rewards, both in the quality of the results and player form. We’d like to thank Team Scotland Commonwealth Games and all our partners for their support on the road to these much-anticipated games. We can’t wait to get to Birmingham and see what Scotland can achieve!”
Scotland at the Commonwealth Games.
Scotland has competed in every Commonwealth Games since the first Empire Games in 1930 and has hosted the Games three times: twice in Edinburgh 1970 and 1986 and most recently in Glasgow in 2014.
Scotland’s most successful Games were at home at Glasgow 2014, when TeamScotland won a record 53 medals (19 gold, 15 silver and 19 bronze) to finish fourth on the medal table. Scotland’s most successful overseas Games in terms of number won were in Gold Coast in 2018 when Team Scotland won 44 medals (9 gold, 13 silver and 22 bronze).
Pictures courtesy of Scottish Squash and Squash Mad archives