Palmer makes history on final day in Glasgow

On the final day of the Games there were just two more Squash Golds to be won and some history to be made ….

Men’s Final:
[2] Palmer & Pilley (AUS) 2-1 [1] Grant & Matthew (ENG)  10-11, 11-7, 11-9 (80m)
Mixed Final:
[3] Grinham & Palmer (AUS) 2-0 [4] Waters & Barker (ENG)  11-8, 11-10 (48m)

Mixed Bronze:
[1] Brown & Pilley (AUS) 2-1 [2] King & Knight (NZL)  8-11, 11-9, 11-8 (78m)
Men’s Bronze:
[3] Selby & Willstrop (ENG) 2-0 [4] Clyne & Leitch (SCO) 11-9, 11-7 (79m)

Palmer gets double Gold

SH8604The final match of the tournament, with Nick Matthew going for a second golden double as he and Adrian Grant aimed to retain their men’s doubles title, up against David Palmer and Cameron Pilley, who had both already earned medals in today’s earlier matches.

SH8633There was nothing between them in the 29-minute opening game, with Grant and Palmer on the left-hand side more inclined to attack while Palmer and Matthew played the steadying hands. 5-all, 7-all, 9-all, 10-9 for the English with a low Matthew drive, 10-all with a short Palmer kill. The English got the better of the sudden-death rally to lead 12-10.

SH8620The second game started with shorter rallies, the Aussie pair leading 4-1 before being pegged back to 4-all. They continued pressing though, and pulled out to a 9-5 lead. The English duo edged two points closer, but a service return into the nick from Pilley and a winning boast from Palmer set up a deciding game.

SH8630The third was as tense as you’d expect. A good 4-1 start for the English, but the Aussies levelled at 4-all. 6-4 for England, 6-all then Pilley thunders in a low drive to take the lead, extended to 8-6, then Palmer powers the ball into the nick for 9-6. A drop from Grant, two rare tins from Palmer, for 9-all. Long rally, dying in the deep for 10-9 Australia. A long, tense rally, and finall Pilly pouinds the ball deep, and he and Palmer have their second medals of the day – for David Palme rboth of them GOLD.

SH8634The day’s first final saw two Australians who already had six Commonwealth Medals each pick up yet another as David Palmer and Rachael Grinham beat Peter Barker and Alison Waters in two tight, thrilling games.

In contrast to the Bronze matches both pairs played attacking squash, but it was the Australians who started the better, leading 5-1 in the frirst and staying ahead to take the lead 11-8.

SH8592The English duo came out firing in the second, leading 6-1 with Barker putting in some spectacular attacks. The Aussies slowly but surely pegged them back though, with Palmer scoring at the front of the court.

Barker and Waters had two game balls at 10-8, but both were saved as a Grinham shot into Waters’ body set up sudden death. A scrambling rally, Palmer went forward towards Barker’s shot then stopped, claiming it had clipped the tin. A moment of “what’s happening” before Barker agrees, hands are shaken, and Palmer celebrates winning that elusive Gold medal that he came out of retirement for.

SH_2955   SH_2954

SH_2953“I think that’s it now,” said Palmer when asked if he might compete in the 2018 Games in his homeland. “I hope I will be at the Gold Coast Games – not as player, but watching!

“I’ve achieved what I wanted to – it’s a dream come true.

“Before we arrived, I thought I had a better chance in the mixed with Rachael as we read each other’s games well and her variation and style suits my game,” explained US-based Palmer.

SH8632“The men’s was always going to be tough as England have dominated the event since the beginning and Nick and Adrian are so strong – we knew it would be a huge effort to beat them.

“We were trying to hang in there in the third game, and I dropped off the pace a bit – but Pilley really stepped up and hit some incredible shots.

14CG40653“It was good that we got off 2/0 in the mixed – especially as they really got off to a good start in the second and were really focussed.

“It was better to keep going,” said Palmer when asked about having to play the two matches back-to-back. “I had a quick shower after the first match to freshen up.

14CG40440“I knew the schedule would be tough but I didn’t play the singles – I enjoyed the first week watching the matches – Nick and James’s singles final was a great match.

“It probably was the toughest day of my life – especially at 38 – but in the end I got over the line.

“This is great for me personally – but I hope it will also help Squash Australia. Winning two golds should help the funding,” concluded the double gold medallist.

SH8643Matthew, the world No2, said after the match: “I thought the good start in the final game was going to carry us through but you can second-guess every shot in doubles.

“We did ourselves proud, we put our game plan into practice – but they pulled off two great shots to win.

“It’s been amazing here right from the word go. It’s the best Team England I’ve ever been part of – the spirit of the team has been fantastic. The fact that I carried the flag at the Opening Ceremony still gives me goose-bumps – it was a pity not to end on a high. Next week will probably be a bit of a comedown.

“I think the doubles came out well – with a lot more credit than it had in Delhi. Doubles is now on a high after that.”

Team-mate Grant added: “Credit where it’s due to the Australians, they fought hard and we fought hard – that’s what the crowd wanted to see. Everyone was excited to see the doubles.”

Bronze Reports

SH8639The first match of the day was a repeat of the 2010 Delhi Mixed Final. In the first game both pairs were playing safety first, attritional rallies. An early 4-1 lead for Cameron Pilley and Kasey Brown was pegged back, and from 4-all the scoreboard progressed in ones to 8-all. It was Martin Knight and Joelle King who made the decisive move, taking the next three points to lead.

SH8528The Kiwi pair took a 3-0 lead in the second, but as the Aussies – Pilley in particular – started to launch more attacks, they were pegged back to 4-all. Pilley and Brown stretched away to lead 8-4 and 10-7, levelling the match 11-9 after almost an hour’s play.

The pattern continued in the third, with neither team able to get a clear advantage … 4-all, 5-all, 6-all, 7-all, 8-all. Two errors from King gave the Aussies match ball, two long rallies one ending in a let (just how do you get a stroke?), the next in a winner from Pilley and the Bronze was Australia’s.

“We won from a game down last time,” said Brown. “I really wanted to come away with a medal here.”

Pilley added: “We were confident going into the second. I am so happy.”

SH8640The Men’s Bronze match started out in a similar attritional manner, with Scots pairing Alan Clyne and Harry Leitch holding a slight advantage at 5-3 and 7-5. The English duo of James Willstrop and Daryl Selby pegged them back thouhg, taking the game 11-9 on their second game ball.

SH8564The pattern continued in the second, generally lengthy rallies interspersed with lets and attacks. Neither pair could establish a decisive advantage as the score rose to 7-all.

SH_2952The English edged ahead, and a slip by Clyne in the back corner moved the English to 9-7. A drive down the middle brought up match ball, and one chance was all the English pair needed.

SH8570A jubilant Selby, now with a first Commonwealth Games medal to his credit, said: “It’s the biggest two weeks of my career – it’s what I wanted, a Commonwealth Games medal. This is our Olympics.

“It’s a pleasure to share it with James – we’ve both put in a lot of hard work for this.

“We picked ourselves up from yesterday when we were punished.”


Preview: Four to go and History to be made

First up is a Trans-Tasman battle for the Mixed Bronze between two pairs who won medals in Delhi and will be keen to repeat the feat in Glasgow.

Then it’s an Anglo-Scottish matchup for the Men’s Bronze, no doubt who the majority of the crowd will be supporting here.

The Mixed final offers England’s Alison Waters and Peter Barker the chance to add to their medal tally, which looks small compared to the six each already in the possession of David Palmer and Rachael Grinham. Of the four only Grinham has tasted Gold though, and Palmer will be particularly keen to add that colour to his collection.

The Men’s final gives Adrian Grant and Nick Matthew the chance to defend the title they won in Delhi, and for Matthew a fourth Gold would emulate the feats of Peter Nicol. Palmer will move to the top of the medal rankings on eight, and if he hasn’t already captured that Gold this will almost certainly be his last chance to do so.

And that will be that for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games – over all the sports there are 11 Gold medals to be won today, and the Men’s final is the last of those to start, so the Games could finish with a squash medal ceremony, now cool is that …