England name nine-strong squad for singles and doubles
By DONNA HELMER
Commonwealth champion, Nick Matthew, will be returning to the Commonwealth Games stage for the last time as he headlines Team England’s squash team for the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games.
With less than seven weeks to go until the Commonwealth Games begin on 4 April, Team England have selected nine squash players who will compete for ‘Team and Country’ in Australia.
At the last Commonwealth Games in Glasgow 2014, Team England topped the medal table in squash with a total of nine medals – one gold, five silver and three bronze.
Three-time Commonwealth Gold medallist, Nick Matthew said: “I’m delighted to be selected to compete at the 2018 Commonwealth Games. This will be my fourth Commonwealth Games and the three Gold medals that I won in Delhi and Glasgow are amongst the highlights of my career.
“For a while, I didn’t think I’d make it to my fourth Games so it’s fantastic to be feeling in really great shape and ready to head to the Gold Coast. When I announced that this year would be my final playing season, I said that winning a fourth gold medal would be at the top of my list of goals, so I’ll be doing everything I can to get that gold for Team England.”
Team England have won at least one gold medal in squash at every Commonwealth and six of the selected athletes have previous Commonwealth Games experience. The squad selected have 17 Commonwealth medals between them and a combined total of 737 England caps.
Team England’s squash team leader, David Campion, said: “We have announced a strong squad that we believe can medal in every event. We have a huge amount of collective experience at the Commonwealth Games with this group of players, many of which are multiple medallists across three different games – Nick in particular who already has three gold medals to his name.
“Sarah-Jane Perry, Declan James and Adrian Waller are all extremely excited to be making their Commonwealth Games debuts and will have the added benefit of being able to draw on this vastly experienced team. We are very much looking forward to representing our country in the Gold Coast.”
Glasgow 2014 double silver medallist and Delhi silver medallist, Laura Massaro, will be competing at her third Commonwealth Games. She said: “It’s such an honour to be selected to represent Team England at the 2018 Commonwealth Games and I’m really excited about heading to the Gold Coast.
“The Commonwealth Games for squash players is our biggest event and it’s always great to meet fellow sportspeople and enjoy being a part of Team England. I’m hoping to turn my 2014 silver into 2018 gold.”
James Willstrop will be competing in the men’s singles and the doubles with Declan James. He already has three Commonwealth silver medals and a bronze to his name but wants to add to the collection in Australia.
He said: “The Commonwealth Games is an incredible experience and different to any tournament that we play on the professional tour. I have played in a few Commonwealth Games now and they are wonderful occasions. I have won Commonwealth medals before and I would love to win them again. I feel very happy and proud to be part of it.”
2014 bronze medallist Daryl Selby will be competing for gold in his third games alongside Matthew and Willstrop in the men’s singles. He said: “It’s always a great honour and privilege to be selected to play for England but there is always an extra buzz for the Commonwealth Games as it only comes around every four years.
“This Games will be a fantastic showcase of sport, especially squash, and a great setting on the Gold Coast in Australia. I can’t wait to get down there and compete. It really would complete my career if I could win a Gold medal in one of the three events I’m competing in.”
Partnering Selby in the men’s doubles will be Commonwealth rookie Adrian Waller. After discovering he’d made the team, he said: “It’s a real honour to join such a successful team and I hope to help that continue. It’s a new experience for me as a debutant but knowing the rest of the squad well and how many of them have competed at the Commonwealth Games before, I only anticipate it being straight forward.”
Declan James, who will also be making his debut and partnering James Willstrop in the men’s doubles, said: “Being selected to represent England in the Gold Coast will be the highlight of my career to date. Playing for your country in a Commonwealth Games is an honour of the highest order, and to be lining up alongside James in the doubles, who I’ve looked up to since I was a kid, will be special.”
Elsewhere in the women’s singles, Sarah-Jane Perry will be competing in her inaugural Commonwealth Games alongside four-time Commonwealth Games veteran Alison Waters.
Perry, who will also partner Laura Massaro in the women’s doubles event, cannot wait to begin her Commonwealth Games after missing out on selection four years ago. She said: “To win a medal of any colour would be amazing but to win a gold medal would be out of this world. I’ll be thinking about it in every training session until then and know the competition will be fierce, but I can’t wait!”
Silver and bronze Commonwealth medallist Alison Waters will also be competing in all three events, partnering Jenny Duncalf in the women’s doubles and Daryl Selby in the mixed doubles. Waters commented: “After winning silver and bronze four years ago in an incredible event in Glasgow, it would be amazing to go one further and get a gold medal. I’ve never won a singles medal so I’m definitely aiming for a medal in that event – it should be a very open competition with everyone having a chance of winning.”
Jenny Duncalf completes England Squash’s Commonwealth Games line-up and the three-time silver medallist will be aiming to go one step further on the Gold Coast in the doubles events with partners Alison Waters and Adrian Waller. She said: “I’m over the moon to be selected for my fourth Commonwealth Games and to be in both doubles events. I live in Brisbane now and have seen a lot of the build-up and excitement for the Gold Coast Games. It’s going to be great.”
Team England will send a team of around 600 athletes and staff in what will be England’s largest ever team to represent the nation in an overseas sporting event. The team will compete in 18 sports, including 38 para medal events.
Sarah Winckless, Chef de Mission for Commonwealth Games England, said: “I’m delighted to welcome the nine squash players to Team England and congratulate them all on their selection. I can’t wait to see them in action and work towards sending the best prepared team to Australia.
“I’m proud that we will get to see Nick Matthew compete at his last Games – he has given a great service to Team England, becoming champion in both Delhi 2010 and Glasgow 2014, where he was our official flagbearer. I’m sure he will be an inspirational teammate at the Games.”
The team in each event is:
James Willstrop & Declan James
Daryl Selby & Adrian Waller
Alison Waters & Jenny Duncalf
Laura Massaro & Sarah-Jane Perry
Adrian Waller & Jenny Duncalf
Daryl Selby & Alison Waters
Team England’s preparation camp for the Gold Coast will include a number of specially selected high-performance sports and support facilities that will enable athletes to continue training and complete their final preparations prior to entering the Commonwealth Games Village.
Pictures from Squash Mad archive