There are four pillars of athletic ability: physicality, technique, tactics, and mental toughness. To win at my sport, you need all four. Any chink in your armour will be exposed. Any lapse in focus, exploited. Each squash match is a fight to push beyond the pain threshold. It’s a fight to outwit the opponent. It’s a fight to maintain composure. Each squash match is a fight for perfection, for challenging where you are now, and where you want to be after it’s all over.
For my brother and I, the Olympic Games was where we wanted to be. We wanted to don the Canadian flag and fight our hearts out for our country. We wanted to win Olympic Gold for Team Canada. For 17 years, we fought to accomplish this. Five hours per day, six days per week, Graeme and I sought to gain an advantage however we could. Elite athletics rests in the details, so we paid attention. No rock was left unturned, no stone untouched. Even our university degrees (mine in psychology, my brother’s in kinesiology) were chosen as a means to gain an edge. Graeme and I had a goal, and we went for it.
Unfortunately, the Olympic dream did not become a reality for us. Squash was denied inclusion in both the 2016 and 2020 Summer Olympics, and with that our 17 years of preparation was all but washed away. It stung, but it wasn’t the end.
In sports, as in life, it’s not about the cards you’re dealt, but how you play your hand that matters. Since squash was excluded from the Olympics, Graeme and I re-evaluated our goals and redefined what it meant to represent our country. Targeting the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto, we worked harder than ever to prove our worth on the international stage. This time it paid off, and we each brought home a Gold (Team) and a Silver (Doubles) Medal. Of course, the Pan Am Games is not the Olympics, but it is a step toward the honour of bringing Canada to the forefront of the sport we love so much.
The more we learn, the more we realize how much we have left to learn! While Graeme has stepped away from squash as a full-time career (choosing instead to pursue a degree in Chiropractics), he has become my full-time coach and advisor. Our relationship has allowed me to win five PSA pro tour titles and become the youngest Canadian Champion and #1 ranked player in Canada since Jonathan Power. Together, we are working toward my current goal of becoming a top 30 ranked player internationally, and the ultimate dream of winning the World Championships, all while I pursue an Masters of Science in Kinesiology. As Rafael Nadal once said, "'If' does not exist in sport. The thing is, you have to do it."