I’m a little speechless – Gina Kennedy makes history in Birmingham

Gina Kennedy admitted she was speechless after making history by becoming the first Englishwoman to win women’s squash gold at the Commonwealth Games.

In her Commonwealths debut, the 25-year-old beat Canadian Hollie Naughton 3-1 in a fun session in the final on Wednesday.

Kennedy won the first two games before Naughton lost one in a tough third game filled with long rallies.

The Canadian put up a good fight in the fourth game, but Kennedy emerged victorious and was shocked by the victory, revealing that she had struggled to sleep the night before.

She said: “I’m a little speechless, yesterday when I won the semi-final I was full of emotion and at the moment I think I’m a little shocked!

“I wish I could put into words what this means to me but honestly I 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 this up for two years now and now it just so happens that I’m a little speechless!

“My phone was off the hook I just couldn’t sleep, woke up so early, just excited, nervous and everything you can imagine.

Gina Kennedy defeated Hollie Naughton in the women’s squash final 3-1 (Zac Goodwin/PA)

“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 a lot of work ahead of him as he resumes his doubles events on Thursday, but he also revealed post-match that his health psychology dissertation deadline is approaching.

“Yes, my dissertation is due soon, I did it part-time for two years, so I only have my dissertation to do this year in about two weeks,” he added.

“I graduated from Harvard, then Covid hit, so I thought I wanted something other than pumpkin to keep me busy, so that was fine for a year, so I was like ‘Wait!’ I would be very happy to do that!”

Birmingham Commonwealth Games 2022 – Day Six

Sarah-Jane Perry secured bronze in women’s singles (Zac Goodwin/PA)

Kennedy defeated fellow Englishwoman Sarah-Jane Perry in Tuesday’s semi-final and the latter managed an incredible comeback to win 3-2 to seal bronze in the women’s singles.

The Warwickshire-born player was initially two games behind New Zealander Joelle King, but managed to win the next two and scored a decision in the final match.

In a thrilling finale, the two players clashed, but Perry went on to win, winning 14-12, and she believes the performance was one of her best comebacks.

She said, “I just thought I would keep going, keep focusing on the point in front of you and keep fighting, I kept telling myself to keep fighting.

“I’ve come back from deficits before and this is up there with one of my best returns, I’m extremely proud of myself for letting it all out today.”

Joel Makin added a silver for Wales in a close encounter with New Zealander Paul Coll, who secured gold in the men’s singles.

The score constantly ping-ponds back and forth in a close encounter, but Makin admitted that the result was “still gutted”.

He said: “There are tons of positives this week, this is huge, I can’t help but appreciate that, but it’s still devastating.

“I couldn’t have done anything more today and that’s something I can take away from it, when I play these matches I leave absolutely everything out there, I couldn’t have done more today.”

Elsewhere, England’s James Willstrop lost bronze in the men’s singles, losing 3-0 to Indian Saurav Ghosal.

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