As we kick off our #LoveSquash campaign we want to look back at the history of squash at the Commonwealth Games and New Zealand’s successful campaigns.
In 1998 squash was introduced into the Commonwealth Games for the first time and has ever since been a core sport meaning it must be included in each edition of the Games. The 1998 games were the first held in an Asian country and the last Commonwealth Games of the 20th century. This was also the first time the games took place in a nation with a head of state other than the Head of the Commonwealth, and the first time the games were held in a non-English speaking nation. For the first time ever, the games included team sports.
New Zealand sent a team of 8 to the 1998 games which were held in Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia. The team members selected to represent New Zealand for the first time were Daniel Sharplin, Paul Steel, Wayne Werder, Glen Wilson, Phillipa Beams, Sarah Cook, Fiona Dean, Leilani Joyce. The team was ably coached and managed by Paul Wright and Nevan Barbour.
It was Sarah Cook and Glen Wilson who were able to bring home New Zealand’s first ever squash medal in the Mixed Doubles event. The pair were knocked out in the semi-finals by the English duo of Simon Parke and Suzzanne Horner who went on to claim Silver. Back in 1998 there were no play-offs for the bronze medal so the pair were joint winners with the South African pairing of Rodney Durbach and Natalie Grainger.
New Zealand had some other notable results at the 1998 Games, these included a Quarter-Final finish in the Mixed Doubles for Wayne Werder and Fiona Dean, a Quarter-Final finish for Leilani Joyce and Phillipa Beams and a Quarter-Final finish in the Women’s singles for Leilani Joyce. These games also saw a young Australian female competing who in 2002 would compete under the New Zealand flag, but more on her in the next edition!