Ton up for Matthew as Rebecca swims to silver

Nick Matthew was presented with a shirt after he reached 100 caps
Nick Matthew was presented with a shirt after he reached 100 caps

The honours and occasions are coming thick and fast for Nick Matthew, but he is having little trouble staying focused on the squash court.

Matthew kicked off his bid to retain the men’s singles title at the Commonwealth Games by carrying England’s flag in Wednesday’s opening ceremony.

On Thursday he won his first two matches of the tournament, bringing up his 100th England cap in the process, and today (Friday) he celebrates his 34th birthday.

However, Matthew insists he has not lost sight of his top target in Glasgow – another Commonwealth Games gold medal.

“It’s an amazing honour,” he said, on joining the 100 club with a first-round win against Mauritian Xavier Koenig.

“I had forgotten all about it, to be honest, until they announced it in the knock-up. After the opening and then my first matches and my birthday – I will have to concentrate on the actual squash soon.

“It is an amazing honour and I will have something to look back on but I have got to focus on what’s coming next now.

“Hopefully it is something I will be able to look back on with pride at the end of my career and hopefully I will be able to get to 150 and beyond.”

And the reception Matthew received at Glasgow’s Scotstoun Sports Campus was another memorable memento for the reigning champion.

“I have never experienced that in the first round, first match on,” he added, before going on to beat Jamaica’s Chris Binnie later in the day.

“I heard this place was going to be packed out on the weekend but it was the first day and it took me a bit by surprise so I had to get my game face on. It wasn’t a case of easing into it in the first round.”

Rotherham swimmer Rebecca Turner earned a silver medal as part of England’s 4x100m relay team.

Turner – along with Fran Halsall, Amy Smith and Siobhan O’Connor – had no answer to the Australians, who posted a world record mark of 3:30:98, but beat Canada to second.

Meanwhile it has been a busy year for table tennis player Karina Le Fevre and after turning 21 last week she is hoping to cap it off with a Commonwealth Games medal.

Le Fevre was at the Games in Delhi four years ago but now a older and wiser ambitions are high.

The 21-year-old is still waiting for her chance to hit the ground running in Glasgow, after watching from the bench as England recorded back-to-back wins – against Ghana and Trinidad and Tobago – in the team event on Thursday.

One more win on Friday morning will see them top the group and progress straight to the quarter-finals and Le Fevre is praying for a late birthday present – a call to arms from head coach Nick Jarvis.

“Our main aim is to win, so whatever the coach thinks is best and we just try and help each other get to the highest level we can be,” she said.

“It was my birthday last Thursday and I went home for a couple of days. We were here before and training for three days, got used to the village and everything.

“Then I went home for a couple of days and it just happened to fall on my birthday that I was at home.

“Nothing mental – I just caught up with my family, got a couple of presents and came straight back.”

Elsewhere record-breaking swimmer Sophie Taylor claims Olympic sensation Ruta Meilutyte is the reason for her rapid rise to stardom.

Taylor trained alongside the Lithuanian hotshot in Plymouth for three weeks prior to the Commonwealth Games and this season she has broken the British record for the 100m breaststroke and the English record for the 200m discipline.

And in Glasgow she followed that up with another British-best time of 30.56 seconds in the heats – although she went slightly slower in the semi-finals in 30.86.

But Taylor credits 17-year-old Olympic 100m champion Meilutyte for her progression and new-found international medal prospects ahead of the final today (Friday).

“I’ve been training alongside Ruta (Meilutyte), the 100m breaststroke Olympic champion, in Plymouth to try and get some speed up and it seems to have paid off so far,” said Taylor.

“It was over three weeks, and I’ve definitely learned something, she’s so quick off the block she leaves me for dead but you do learn.”

Commonwealth Games England (CGE) leads and manages the participation of the Team England at the Commonwealth Games and Commonwealth Youth Games. We work with sports, Sponsors and Sport England to support the development of athletes and their sports, and to achieve success at Games-time.