The Blog

Commonwealth Games review: Part 1

I lost to Nick Matthew in the gold medal match in the men's and Peter Barker won bronze, making it a clean sweep of English medals.

Time now to reflect on what has been a Commonwealth Games of many highs and one or two lows. For those who didn't hear much about the squash then here is an update: Nicol David beat Laura Massaro in the women's singles final to win gold, and Joelle King won bronze. I lost to Nick Matthew in the gold medal match in the men's and Peter Barker won bronze, making it a clean sweep of English medals.

The doubles event went well too. Changes were made after the last Commonwealths in Delhi because it was such a dull spectacle for spectators and players, rallies often lasting for minutes at a time with little variation. But the World Squash Federation decided to change the height of the tin to 13 inches and this made for more attack, and in Glasgow the speed and quickness of reaction from the players really translated.

The men's gold was won by Cameron Pilley and David Palmer of Australia, who judged it perfectly. They beat Nick Matthew and Adrian Grant, gold medallists in Delhi, 2-1. Very happily, Daryl Selby and I took bronze, beating Scotland on the final Sunday, and it was undoubtedly one of my most fulfilling squash achievements. In a sport where we always work individually it was special to share such an achievement with Daryl, after working so hard together.

The mixed event was won by David Palmer and Rachael Grinham, two legends of the sport. Palmer collected two golds at 38 years of age, having retired from the professional circuit three years ago. A stunning achievement. English pair Peter Barker and Alison Waters fought hard for silver, and Cameron Pilley and Kasey Brown took bronze for Australia.

In the women's event it was a first ever Commonwealth medal for India; Joshana Chinappa and Dipika Pallikal played brilliantly to win gold. The English pairs of Jenny Duncalf and Laura Massaro and Alison Waters and Emma Beddoes won silver and bronze.

To add to this, the audience watching squash on singles finals day apparently hit one million, and the reaction has been overwhelmingly positive. This reaction from people who are not from a squash background has been the most exciting thing of all. We saw tweets and messages from countless people saying it was their first time watching the sport, and some said how they were looking forward to trying the sport for the first time.

The Commonwealth Games is undoubtedly a world class event in squash, but there are one or two big nations missing, one being Egypt of course, so it isn't as strong in depth as some World Series events. But the Games give us a very significant platform from which to showcase the sport. More people during the last two weeks have watched, written about and commented on the sport than ever and the live television coverage has been unprecedented.

There have been some exhilarating sporting moments away from the glass box. Of course the Yorkshire athletes performed admirably, and there are too many to mention names. The action on the track was exciting on the final Saturday, that 4x100 men's relay being a highlight, and of course Jo Pavey's bronze in the 5000metres, at 40. There were some highly exciting matches in the hockey and netball. The English netball girls were impressive in their commitment and attitude and took some hard losses with grace. It's a high paced and exciting sport to watch.

Fellow English racket players in Badminton and Table Tennis fared well and also won medals.

Mr Bolt took a lot of the headlines of course. He wasn't seen in the Village too much though; his fame has clearly reached levels now that going out would be hard work.

The Games have been a revelation. Glasgow should be very proud because what these sporting events are really about is hard fought sport that gets people inspired and enthused. The 2014 Commonwealth Games did that.

James' book: 'Shot and a Ghost', is available to buy from or on kindle

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