Ireland’s Madeleine Perry managed to write her own fairytale last weekend at the Irish Open in Dublin.
Weeks before she had said – at 38 and a world top 20 squash player – that this would be her last event.
Making a success of a final event can’t be easy; after 17 years on the professional circuit to end it all in her home country could have made it more testing and intense.
The emotions would clearly be high, expectations are there, and much of the squash world wants you to succeed, but in essence the requirement is still to simply think out a game plan and execute a match just the same as on any other day. That subtext of knowing that tomorrow you will be an ex-squash player must be difficult.
So the reaction and reception after Madeleine’s victory on Saturday in the final against Nicolette Fernandes was a very happy one. Although it would never be the worst eventuality to have lost, Madeleine will be thrilled to have won her nation’s trophy as she crosses into retirement.
Madeleine has been based in Yorkshire for a long stint of her professional sporting career, making Halifax her home. Latterly she often came over to Pontefract to train with the group there and I always enjoyed the practice sessions with her. It was incredible, at 38, how she applied herself diligently to keep in top condition.
We all know how hard it is to maintain a sound and strong body as the years go by as a squash player, but Madeleine proved it can be done at way past the given age, and it gives us all inspiration.
She had a career to remember, a British Open final being another incredible achievement to treasure and to go with her final bow in Ireland last week.
Everyone in squash wishes Madeleine the best and salutes her on her professional squash career. Happy retirement.