Nick Matthew column: As the flag bearer, it is my duty to lead from the front

England flag bearer Nick Matthew stands in George Square after the Flag bearer announcement at England House, Glasgow.
England flag bearer Nick Matthew stands in George Square after the Flag bearer announcement at England House, Glasgow.
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I can’t wait to carry the England flag at the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony in Glasgow tonight.

When I walk out at Celtic Park carrying the England flag, it will be the biggest honour of my career. Badminton player Nathan Robertson did it four years ago. You feel like you are the captain and leader of the team. You want to set a good example.

I feel extremely proud to represent all the different sports and athletes. The Games are the pinnacle for squash players in a multi-sport Games environment, and I feel extremely proud to represent all the different sports and athletes here as we unite as Team England. I can’t wait to share that very special moment with the whole of Team England before we get down to the business of bringing home the medals for our country.

It is my 34th birthday on Friday so hopefully I will have something to celebrate come the end of the Games. It is so exciting to be a part of the England team and I can’t wait for the action to start. I begin the defence of my men’s singles title against Xavier Koenig, a 29-year-old Mauritian who will be making his Games debut, tomorrow.

It will be the third time I have competed in the competition. My first Games was Melbourne back in 2006. I lost to Lee Beachill in the bronze medal match. That was a great learning experience for me. I remember when the England athletes entered the stadium for the opening ceremony and we got roundly booed by 90,000 Aussies at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. That was quite an experience!

Four years ago, I was a double gold medal winner in Delhi. I claimed the men’s singles title and went on to win the men’s doubles prize with Adrian Grant.

Adrian is my regular room mate. He is so chilled out. If he was anymore relaxed, he would probably fall over! But seriously, he is a great person to be around. He is so relaxed whereas I am the complete opposite. We’ve known each other for a long time so that always helps. You need a good understanding in doubles.

It will be interesting to see what sort of a reception we get from the Scottish public. I’m not expecting it to be great. I’m sure it will be similar to what we received in Australia. That was light hearted and good natured. I’ve competed in Scotland before and I know they love their sport. At the end of the day, the Games are a celebration of sport.

The good thing is that my knee is improving every single day. I’ve familiarised myself with the ice station in the athletes village. It is a room of ice baths. I will probably be the biggest visitor there!

I would have loved another couple of weeks to do a trial run but I haven’t got that luxury. But I keep reminding myself that there are people who are far worse off than me. I’m very privileged that I get to go out there and represent my country. I will give it my best shot.