You have had a great career in Squash, what are your most important thoughts and memories from your years of playing?
Any time that I have represented England but the World Championships and Commonwealth Games, stand out as my best moments in the sport. I have won a silver and bronze in the Commonwealth Games and the World Team Championships in 2006, and also 6 European team titles. Representing your country is the pinnacle of any sport, and I feel extremely privileged to have had these opportunities.
Do you think squash has come a long way from when you first started playing on the pro-tour?
The Women’s World Circuit has got stronger and the competition much tougher. There are also more tournaments which women can compete in and more prize money. The squash in Manchester has picked up quite a lot since the Commonwealth Games 2002, the venue here is fabulous with great courts and training facilities which most of the England Squash players use for training, so for me the game of squash has come a long way, yes.
What would you like to see being done to try and get squash into the Olympics?
I don’t know what more we could do! We have tried every avenue that we can, and we are clueless as to what we can do now. Obviously we would love to see it in the Olympics but this not been fruitful so far. We are going to have to keep on trying and hopefully we will see squash as an Olympic sport in the 2016 games.
Does it irritate you that there are sports such as football and tennis at the Olympics, where to win an Gold Medal in these sports isn’t the most important accolade within the sport, whereas with squash it would be the ultimate achievement?
Yes, completely! Squash players have this discussion all the time, when we see tennis players turning up at the Olympics with the focus of the US Open at the back of their mind, they really have no interest in winning an Olympic gold medal. With squash all the players would feel that the Olympics would be the absolute pinnacle of the sport and it simply can’t get any better than winning a gold medal.
As with all these things, the fact that Squash is not an Olympic sport comes down to money, does that annoy you?
The Hi-Tec World Squash Championships – Manchester 2008 is to be your last tournament. How do you feel about this?
I’m quite sad about hanging up my competitive racquet, but it’s exciting too! I am now also involved in the Hi-Tec World Squash Championships from a different angle as I have been asked to become a trainer at the National Squash Centre, so I am involved both from a players point of view and also a little bit of the organisational point of view. I am therefore seeing things that I have never seen before. Also with all my experience on the pro-circuit I now realise that it is quite difficult to win a tournament!
Did you want to bow out in your home town?
It’s honestly purely by chance. If I wanted to I could have been waiting a lifetime for a huge tournament to be held in Manchester again. Since the Commonwealth Games 2002, we have had so many events here. The Hi-Tec World Squash Championships seemed like the ideal time for me to bow out of the competitive circuit, and it’s all the more special that I will be saying goodbye on home soil.
How much support has England Squash given you since announcing your retirement?
Both Manchester City Council and England Squash have been amazing and they have both helped me to come to terms with the difference between being a full time player to having a full time job as a coach. I have still been training twice a day because the Hi-Tec World Squash Championships are coming up, which has made life difficult because I am in the National Squash Centre for 10 hours (or more) a day, either training or coaching. They honestly both have been fabulous about my retirement and offering me help with improving my skills as a squash coach.
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You should have a little more time on your hands now, how are you planning to use it?
No not at all, far less time! It makes me realise how hard having a real job is! I take my hat off to workers!
Will you miss travelling around the world with the Squash Tour?
Yes, I will, but not the competing! I’ll miss being able to spend time with the squash girls, and all the banter! I won’t miss the pressure of having to win matches in order to earn enough money to live and I think I’ve done my fair share of travelling, so I wont miss that too much. I’m going to New York in February with my family, which I’m extremely excited about.
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By Mike Valverde