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England deny Australia gold in squash final


Englandís Peter Nicol MBE and Lee Beachill won the Commonwealth Games menís doubles gold medal by defeating Australians Stewart Boswell and Anthony Ricketts in a gruelling and closely-fought final.

Peter Nicol

Peter Nicol makes up for the gold he lost in the men's singles final

The third-seeded English pair moved swiftly into a 4-1 lead, but the game quickly descended into a stalemate, as the 23-year-old Australians hit back with some determined attacking play. Several lengthy rallies of the highest quality were brought to an end by let calls, but the score climbed slowly to 10-10.

Once a crying baby had been removed from one of the stands, silence returned to the arena, as two unforced errors by Brisbane-based Ricketts gave England a 12-10 advantage. At 14-11, Nicol delivered a deceptive serve to Boswell and the ball fell short. It was 1-0 to England in just under 40 minutes.

The second game was again desperately close, as Boswell Ė a PSA Masters finalist Ė and Ricketts the 2000 Australian and Malaysian Open champion, refused to concede. They edged into a slender 6-4 lead and held the initiative at 10-9. England levelled and moved ahead when Boswell returned a tight forehand into the tin.

The score advanced to 13-10 when Ricketts fired a return into the tin and an unforced Boswell error gave England match ball. Three lengthy let-calls later, the score remained at 14-10, but Australia clawed a point back to keep the vocal crowd on the edge of their seats.

Englandís first squash gold medals of the Games were assured when Ricketts mistimed a return and the ball agonizingly slipped to the floor. He punched the air in utter dismay and the deafening roar from the partisan crowd told its own story. Australia had been forced to settle for the silver medals.

Nicols said of their win: ďIt was absolutely fantastic. I was determined not to leave here without a gold medal. I felt I let the team down after the singles final, but this make up for it and Beachill also has one. We played well and fair so we have absolutely nothing to complain about. I can only see the positives.Ē

On animosity between England and Australia, Ricketts said: ďI think that you can tell there was a bit of animosity out there. I think itís a good thing in sport, we want to be competitive and itís always like that between England and Australia. This game didnít go to push and shove though.Ē

Bronze medals were awarded to Saturdayís losing semi-finalists, Englandís Mark Chaloner and Paul Johnson and Paul Price and David Palmer of Australia.

Info News Service/ndp

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