He can dive, he can dance, and Colombia’s Superman of squash is aiming to fly right to the top
Colombian number one Miguel Rodriguez has a unique playing style that endears him to squash fans all over the world. Flying through the air like Superman as he dives after shots, he turns round seemingly hopeless situations with his incredibly athletic court coverage. Under the watchful eye of coach David Palmer, he is steadily improving in all parts of the game as he bids to break into the world top 10. Here he tells ALAN THATCHER about his life on and off court ahead of the 2014 Canary Wharf Classic.
1: Hi Miguel. Everyone is looking forward to seeing you back in action at Canary Wharf next week. What were your thoughts on playing the tournament for the first time last year?
A: It was a pleasant week for me, something new for me! The set-up of the court and the crowd behave so positively! Really loved it.
2: The crowd certainly enjoyed watching you play Nick Matthew in a fantastic match and they gave you a wonderful ovation as you came back on court for the after-match interview. How did that moment feel?
A: Unreal! It’s not usual to have that big an ovation when you lose, so it was a very nice and happy feeling for me to play in front of an English crowd.
3: The screensaver on my computer is a picture of you (above) diving across court in that match. You are certainly one of the best divers and retrievers in the game. Have you ever hurt yourself dong that?
A: No! Never! It’s just a natural movement. I think I react this way unconsciously.
A: We have not played yet on the tour. It will be an interesting match and I hope I can play at my best to get a good result.
5: Please tell us a little about the work you are doing with your coach, David Palmer?
A: Spent few weeks at the beginning of the year and few months in overall during the year focusing on my weakness but more on my strengths. We train 6 times a week and twice a day from Monday to Friday. Lot of routines in the morning with him or the other players like Steve Coppinger, from South Africa, and we play practice games in the afternoon.
6: Knowing a little about David’s background, I imagine you will focus on the psychological aspects of the game as well as fitness, movement and strategy. What lessons can you share with our audience at Canary Wharf?
A: Now am working more in the strategy of the game and how to move the ball around depending how your opponent plays the ball and choose the right time to attack or defend. But I am still doing lot of ladder stuff (fot footwork), quick movement, sprints and some weight training.
7: You have climbed up to a career-high of 14 in the PSA world rankings, which is a fantastic achievement. What areas of your game do you think you need to improve to make that next big push into the world top 10?
A: Be more confident, be aware of the situation on court in a matter of seconds to decide what to do with the ball, and to believe I can beat the top guys.
8: I enjoyed watching a video on Facebook recently in which you were doing an incredibly fast footwork routine. Are you good at Latin-American dancing?
A: Ha ha ha. Yes! (Well that’s what my friends said to me). I think most of the Latin people know how to dance and it’s a bit of advantage for my training.
9: Your achievements must be helping squash to grow in Colombia. Do you get much media coverage back home?
A: Right, it’s getting bigger and bigger every year, not only for my results but also for the junior players who are working hard to follow my steps. They are 6 or 7 times South American champions so I think I am the example/the image/the figure back at home they want to copy.
10: Do you enjoy travelling the world as a squash pro? Which is your favourite country to visit, and why?
A: Yes, I do! My favourite place is Qatar, because they take care of us very well. The hotel always is 5 star, we have transportation back and forth whenever we need it and the weather and the city are amazing!
11: Do you enjoy trying different foods in different countries, or do you have a strict diet?
A: I have a strict diet. I like to follow it, and have good habits. For me, eating healthy is a pleasure… I don’t like to try things that could ruin my stomach.