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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Nicol hopes gold will lift Malaysian spirits

Malaysia's Nicol David poses on the podium after winning the gold medal in the squash women's singles final at the Scotstoun Sports Campus during the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland yesterday. – AFP pic, July 29, 2014.Malaysia's Nicol David poses on the podium after winning the gold medal in the squash women's singles final at the Scotstoun Sports Campus during the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland yesterday. – AFP pic, July 29, 2014.
Nicol David and Nick Matthew successfully defended their Commonwealth Games singles squash titles with victories at the Scotstoun Sports Campus yesterday.
Malaysian world number one David recovered from a slow start to beat England's Laura Massaro 12-10, 11-2, 11-5 in just 44 minutes while Matthew emerged from a five-game thriller to beat compatriot James Willstrop 11-9, 8-11, 11-5, 6-11, 11-5 in one hour and 40 minutes.
Afterwards David hoped her triumph would provide Malaysia with a much-needed lift following the crash of Malaysian Airlines flight 17 and the missing MH370.
"Games like this really bring our spirits up. We are working together for something bigger than ourselves and we hope our contribution can bring a bit of a boost to our country.
"I live in Amsterdam and people were worried I was flying back to Malaysia. It was a little bit daunting when I heard it back and my heart goes out to the families of people were on that flight.
"It's always tough playing Laura, there's always a fine line when you play her."
Massaro could not build on a good start where she led 8-4 and 9-7 in the first game, and there was some controversy in the third game when the English woman was hit in the face by David's racquet and had a stroke awarded against her.
Massaro appealed to the video referee but the decision was not overturned and David never looked back to triumph.
"The first game was the one to rue, you can't let those leads slip against Nicol," she said. "I didn't feel the ball was near where Nicol's racquet was and I got a bit of a bruise from where she hit me."
Joelle King of New Zealand, who lost out to Nicol, beat Alison Waters of England comfortably to take the bronze medal with a 11-7, 11-7, 11-5 win in just 42 minutes.
Matthew and Willstrop were close to ending their dreams of glory in Glasgow just six weeks ago with the former having surgery on his knee and the latter on his hip.
The victor kissed his knee at the end of a tussle that was closely-fought and unpredictable between two players who have openly expressed their ill-feeling towards one another in the past.
"It was the best experience of my life," said Matthew. "Five weeks ago today I had the operation on my knee and it was fifty-fifty whether I'd make it. That was being kind and giving me something to aim for.
"I had to play attritional caveman squash and was on Plan Z. I said to James at the end that he's a winner and we both nearly didn't make it so can come out of it with immense credit."
"I was sat in a café crying six weeks ago as I was not sure if I would play squash again," added Willstrop.
"We've worked so hard the last few weeks ago, I will get through the Commonwealths and then have some more stuff sorted. Me and Nick have not always like each other but there's always been mutual respect."
England won all three medals in the men's singles after Peter Barker beat Saurav Ghosal earlier yesterday. – AFP
- TMI

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