Going for GOLD : #10 Peter Nicol

Only 40 #CommonwealthSquash GOLD medals have ever been won … and just TEN players have won more than one.

In the buildup to the Gold Coast Games we’ll look at each of them …

#10 : Peter Nicol (Scotland & England)

The final entry in our ‘Going for GOLD’ series is the only players to win FOUR #CommonwealthSquasg Gold medals.

Peter Nicol, representing Scotland, won his first in Kuala Lumpur 1998, beating Jonathon Power in the final. The Canadian got his revenge in the 2002 final but Nicol, now representing England, made it clear in his retirement season that Gold in Melbourne 2006 was his target, and he duly delivered.

He also won Gold in the Men’s Doubles in 2002 and 2006, partnered by Lee Beachill (see below), and his overall tally of six #CommonwealthSquash medals puts him behind only David Palmer and Rachael Grinham (see below).

Nicol won one World Open and two British Open titles, and was World #1 for a total of 60 months. He stands alone with four #CommonwealthSquash Golds, but there are those competing in the Gold Coast who could equal, or possibly overtake him.

#9 : Nick Matthew (England)

Our 9th multiple #CommonwealthSquash Gold Medalist is England’s Nick Matthew, who won the Men’s Singles and Doubles in Delhi 2010 and retained the Singles title in Glasgow 2014.

Matthew was partnered by Adrian Grant in the doubles, the pair picking up a Silver in Glasgow, and faced compatriot James Willstrop in both singles finals, the Glasgow epic being watched on the BBC by over a million people (Peter Barker won Bronze in both, making it two English clean sweeps).

Matthew, 38, is a three-time World, three-time British Open and ten time British Nationals Champion, and this will be his fourth and last Commonwealth Games with the top seed set to retire after next month’s British Open.

#8 : Natalie Grinham (Australia)

Australia’s Natalie Grinham not only won Three #CommonwealthSquash GOLD medals – she won them all in the same edition, in Melbourne 2006 !!!

Having captured the Singles Gold, beating sister Rachael (see #4 below) in the final, she teamed up with her elder sister to win the Women’s Doubles (they’d claimed Bronze in Manchester 2002 and won the world title in 2004), and added Mixed Gold with Joe Kneipp.

Natalie reached World #2, enjoying a rivalry with Nicol David that saw them contest every major final, was runner-up in the World and British Opens, and helped Australia to World Teams Gold in 2002 and 2004.

After marrying Tommy Berden, in 2008 Natalie took up Dutch nationality, and continued to play on the tour until 2014.

#7 : Nicol David (Malaysia)

Our last Double #CommonwealthSquash GOLD medal winner, Malaysia’s Datuk Nicol David has competed in every Commonwealth Games starting at home in Kuala Lumpur 1998, and won Singles Gold in Delhi 2010, and again in Glasgow 2014.

She’s also collected Doubles medals – Mixed Bronze in Manchester 2002 and again in Delhi.

David was, of course, dominant in the squash world for over a decade, holding the World #1 ranking for 108 months from 2006 to 2015 , winning Eight World Open/Championship titles and five British Opens.

At the Gold Coast she’ll be aiming for a third Singles title, where she’s seeded #3 and will become the only squash player to feature in all six #CommonwealthSquash singles events.

#6 : Cameron Pilley (Australia)

Back to Australian Double Gold winners with Cameron Pilley, who won the Mixed Doubles in Delhi 2010 with Kasey Brown, and Men’s Doubles with David Palmer in Glasgow 2014.  He has four #CommonwealthSquash medals in total – all Doubles – winning Bronze in the 2010 Men’s and the 2014 Mixed.

Pilley will be playing three Gold Coast events – he’s 7th seed in the Singles, top seed in the Men’s Doubles with Ryan Cuskelly (the pair are reigning World Champions) and Mixed Doubles with Donna Urquhart where they are the fourth seeds.

#5 : Lee Beachill (Eng)

Our first non-Antipodean entry, England’s Lee Beachill won three #CommonwealthSquash medals, winning Men’s Doubles GOLD alongside Peter Nicol (more on him later) in 2002 in Manchester, and defending the title in Melbourne four years later.

Beachill reached World #1 in 2004 (after beating Nicol in the U.S. Open final and ending Nicol’s six-year run at the top) and was runner-up in the World Open that year. He won the British Junior championships at every age group, was National Champion three times and won World Teams Gold with England.

He retired in 2009 and is now COO of the PSA.

#4 : Rachael Grinham (Australia)

Unlike our first three players, Australia’s Rachael Grinham won her two #CommonwealthSquash GOLDs in different editions, coming 12 years apart.

In 2006 Rachael collected the Women’s Doubles title along with younger sister Natalie (more on her later), then in 2014 became Mixed Doubles Champion with David Palmer (see below).

Rachael was World #1 for 16 months in 2004/05, won the World Open in 2007, and was British Open Champion four times, and has won a total of seven #CommonwealthSquash medals, the most for any female and just one behind record holder Palmer.

Now 41 and having collected her first (silver) medal in the 1998 Games’ Women’s Doubles (with Robyn Cooper), Rachael will be contesting the 2018 Women’s and Mixed doubles.

 

#3 : Michelle Martin (Australia)

Australia’s Michelle Martin was the first ever #CommonwealthSquash Gold Medalist as she claimed individual glory in the 1998 games in Kuala Lumpur, beating compatriot Sarah Fitz-Gerald in the final, and going on to add a second Gold as she won the Mixed Doubles partnered by Craig Rowland.

Michelle was world #1 from 1993 to 1996 and again in 1998 and 1999, won three World Open and six British Open titles.

#2 : Leilani Rorani (New Zealand)

What David Palmer did in 2014 (see #1 below), New Zealand’s Leilani Rorani did 12 years earlier, also in the UK, as she claimed Women’s Doubles Gold with Carol Owens, and Mixed Gold with Glen Wilson.

In 12 years on the tour she won 16 WISPA titles, four NZ National titles, was twice names Maori Sportsperson of the year, and was the 2000 New Zealand Sportswoman of the year.

Leilani was World #1 in November 2000, won the British Open in 1999 and 2000 (both in the UK), and was World Open runner-up in 2000 and 2001. She retired in September 2002.

#1 : David Palmer (Australia)

A two-time World Open and four-time British Open Champion, Australian legend David Palmer picked up his first Commonwealth Golds in Glasgow 2014, winning the Men’s Doubles with Cameron Pilley, and the Mixed Doubles with Rachael Grinham.

Palmer retired from the Tour seven years ago, but will be back in Games action for the sixth time since 1998.  The 41-year-old phenomenon, winner of a record eight #CommonwealthSquash medals for Australia, will be bidding for 2018 success with Zac Alexander in the Men’s Doubles, where they are the fifth seeds.