Commonwealth Games: Sheffield’s Nick Matthew dreaming of a golden moment

Sheffield squash player Nick Matthew will play for Commonwealth gold
Sheffield squash player Nick Matthew will play for Commonwealth gold

Nick Matthew insists he remains the underdog for Commonwealth gold despite producing his scintillating best to dispatch of England teammate Peter Barker and reach the final.

The 34-year-old, who carried the flag for Team England at the opening ceremony, needed just over an hour to defeat Barker 11-3 13-11 11-6 in Glasgow.

His performance seems even more remarkable given he was on a hospital bed just five weeks ago as he underwent minor surgery on his right knee.

Fast forward to the present and the singles champion from the Delhi 2010 Commonwealth Games has given himself the opportunity to defend his title today.

But Matthew believes he is still not the favourite to defend his crown given all that has come before these Games, as well as the difficult route he has had to the final.

“I couldn’t have wished for any more, to be honest,” said Matthew. “A few weeks ago I would have signed a million pieces of paper for that, I need to enjoy it and then really refocus ahead of the final.

“Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would feel as good as I do with the knee and I can’t get carried away. I feel as good as I ever have, which is testament to the guys that work with me.

“I said to them to keep me fit and my squash will come back quick and it seems that way. I wasn’t here just to make up the numbers, I wasn’t the favourite after my injury and I think that remains the case.

“I am conscious I don’t want to fall short of the line, I want to run through that tape.”

Meanwhile at Ibrox Tom Powell suffered disappointment as England’s rugby sevens team failed to medal two years out from the sport making it’s Olympic debut.

They had to make do with a 17-15 plate final victory over Wales at over at the Tollcross International Swimming Centre Becky Turner missed out on the 100m freestyle final.

Turner ranked 11th after clocking 55.95 seconds in her semi-final, and she said: “It was tough – all I could really do is just go out there hard and try to bring it home.

“I really struggled on that last 50m. I’ve got the 400m freestyle on Tuesday – that’s a bit of a bonus swim for me so I’ll just get in there and get stuck in to get near my best. I want to just try to make the final.”

Joe Roebuck also missed out on the 100m butterfly final but there was good news for Sophie Taylor as she was the second quickest into the 100m breaststroke medal showdown.

She won her semi-final in 1:07.20 minutes with Jamaica’s Alia Atkinson the only one going quicker in 1:06.87 and Taylor is daring to dream of what she can achieve in the final.

“I’m pretty happy with that race as it’s close to my personal best and a decent semi-final time,” she said.

“I’m in a middle lane for the final and hopefully I will better my time then. Realistically for the final a personal best would be nice and maybe a medal but we’ll see what happens and I’ll keep my fingers crossed for then.”

Daniel Reed played a watching brief as England stormed into the table tennis men’s team final at the Commonwealth Games but he insists he’s ready and waiting to deliver gold.

Both Liam Pitchford and Paul Drinkhall won their opening singles matches against India to put England within one victory of the final.

But Drinkhall and doubles partner Andy Baggaley came unstuck in an epic third fixture with the Indian pairing of Harmeet Desai and Arputha Anthony.

That meant it was up to Pitchford to seal the deal in his singles matches with Desai and he duly delivered, winning an epic five-game encounter 3-2.

Their final opponents are none other than Singapore, who beat them to the team title at Delhi 2010, but Reed is hopeful this time he can take a gold medal home with him.

“I’m really happy for the guys, it was a great performance and we have all played very well throughout the tournament,” he said.

“To come through a nervy end and make the final is great and I played a few matches in the group so for us to come out with a medal we are all happy with.

“We got the silver last time and we are all hoping to get the gold. Singapore are the favorites but they looked nervous and we can beat them.”

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.