Gina Kennedy admitted she was speechless after making history by becoming the first Englishwoman to win gold in women’s squash singles at the Commonwealth Games.
Making her Commonwealth debut, the 25-year-old defeated Canada’s Hollie Naughton 3-1 in an entertaining session at Wednesday’s finals.
Kennedy won the first two games before Naughton pulled one back in a tough third match littered with long rallies.
The Canadian put up a good fight in game four but Kennedy emerged victorious and she was blown away by her win and revealed she had had trouble sleeping the night before.
She said: “I’m really a little bit speechless, yesterday when I won the semi-final I was full of emotions and right now I think I’m just a little bit shocked!
“I wish I could put into words what this means to me but I honestly can’t, it’s a dream and that dream has come true.
“I’ve been thinking about what it would feel like for so long and I’ve been building on it for two years now and now it’s happened, I’m a little bit speechless!
“My phone broke, I just couldn’t fall asleep, I woke up so early just excited, nervous and everything you can imagine.
“You know, when you watch TV and you see the Olympians and they’re about to start their race – imagine the feeling, that’s how I was last night.”
Kennedy still has work to do as she resumes her doubles events on Thursday, but also announced after the game that the deadline for her dissertation in health psychology is shortening.
“Yes, I have my dissertation due soon, I’ve been doing it part-time for over two years, so I just have to do my dissertation in about a few weeks this year,” she added.
“I graduated from Harvard, then Covid came along, so I thought I wanted something other than squash to keep me busy, so that was fine for a year, then I was like, ‘Hold on!’ I will be very happy to do that!”
Kennedy defeated compatriot Sarah-Jane Perry in Tuesday’s semifinals and the latter made an incredible comeback, winning 3-2 and taking bronze in women’s singles.
The Warwickshire-born player started two games behind New Zealand’s Joelle King but managed to win the next two and set up a decider in the last game.
Both players went head-to-head in a thrilling final, but Perry came out on top 14-12, and she believes that performance was one of her best comebacks.
She said: “I just thought go ahead, keep focusing on the point in front of you and just keep fighting, I kept telling myself to keep fighting.
“I’ve come back from deficits before and this is right up there with one of my best comebacks. I’m very proud of myself for putting it all out there today.”
Joel Makin added silver for Wales in a close encounter with New Zealand’s Paul Coll, who secured gold in the men’s singles.
The score kept going back and forth in a close encounter, but Makin admitted the result was “still bad”.
He said: “There are loads of positives from this week, that’s huge, I can’t appreciate that, but that’s still annoying.
“I couldn’t have done more today and I can take that from it. When I play these games I put absolutely everything out there, I couldn’t have done more out there today.”
Elsewhere, England’s James Willstrop missed out on bronze in men’s singles when he lost 3-0 to India’s Saurav Ghosal.
https://www.independent.co.uk/sport/birmingham-kennedy-canada-gold-commonwealth-b2137708.html ‘I’m at a loss for words’: Gina Kennedy makes history in Birmingham with squash gold