Nick Matthew is more than happy to be in England’s sporting spotlight as he kicked off his country’s Commonwealth Games last night.
The Sheffield squash star had the huge honour of carrying the St George’s Cross at the opening ceremony at Celtic Park, Glasgow and today begins his surge for more golden glory when he takes on Xavier Koenig from Mauritius in the mens singles.
Matthew won double gold in Delhi four years ago and has his sights set on more glittering prizes.
But aside from that, the 34 year old is delighted that his flagbearing duties have given squash a major profile boost.
“I think the sport of squash has screamed out for this recognition,” he said.
“In Delhi we topped the medal table. We were one, two and three in the men’s singles and hopefully this will be a chance to shine off the court and hopefully then that will put the spotlight on the court.
“You are judged by your performances on the court; I’d rather get no coverage and be really successful than get loads of coverage and not win anything, so I just hope we get that balance.”
Matthew leads, not just his country but a strong band of Steel City sportsmen and women taking part in the Games.
All in all, there are 15 Sheffield stars in Glasgow, with a few of them, along with Matthew, in with a shout of bringing medals back down across the border.
City of Sheffield 800m runner Mukhtar Mohammed is expected to at least be on contention, while, as part of the Rugby Sevens team, Tom Powell and England could be in the medal frame, though it’s hard to look past the All Blacks for gold.
Outside of those, swimmer Ellie Faulkner, left, could be one to watch, as she, alongside Lewis Coleman, Max Litchfield and Nick Grainger, continues the city’s fine tradition in the pool.
Sheffield’s Commonwealth Games competitors
Athletics: Joe Dunderdale (Javelin); John Lane (Decathlon); Mukhtar Mohammed (800m); Lee Emanuel (1500m)
Diving: Nicholas Robinson-Baker; Fred Woodward (Sheffield)
England Rugby 7s: Tom Powell (Sheffield)
Squash: Nick Matthew (Sheffield)
Swimming: Lewis Coleman, Max Litchfield, Nick Grainger, Ellie Faulkner
Table Tennis: Hannah Hicks; Karina Le Fevre; Kelly Sibley