Natalie Grinham Celebrates Triple Gold On Final Day In Melbourne

26 Mar 06

Australia's Natalie Grinham became the indisputable squash star of the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne today after winning gold in the Mixed Doubles and Women's Doubles events - bring her total haul to a record three gold medals at the Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre after clinching the Women's Singles crown last week.

The 28-year-old from Toowoomba in Queensland became the first squash player to win three medals of any kind in a single Games - a feat which was later mirrored by fellow Aussies Rachael Grinham and David Palmer. Rachael was runner-up to her younger sister in the singles event, then shared gold with Natalie in the Women's Doubles and bronze with Palmer in the Mixed - Palmer also taking a bronze in the Men's Doubles to complement his silver in the singles.

Another Games record was achieved today by England's Lee Beachill & Peter Nicol, who became the first players to successfully defend a Commonwealth title after beating Australian favourites Stewart Boswell & Anthony Ricketts in a marathon 142-minute Men's Doubles final - the last, and longest, match of the Melbourne Games.

Furthermore, England's Vicky Botwright became the only player to win two doubles medals after missing out in the singles - picking up silver in the Mixed and bronze in the Women's.

Natalie Grinham began her hat-trick haul in the Mixed final when she and Joseph Kneipp, the third seeds, recovered from a game down to beat England's fourth seeds Vicky Botwright & James Willstrop 6-9, 9-6, 9-5, 9-6 in 65 minutes.

In the bronze medal play-off, sister Rachael & David Palmer beat second-seeded New Zealanders Shelley Kitchen & Glen Wilson 9-4, 9-6, 9-6 in what was expected to be the final.

After a short break, Natalie was back in action on the unique all-glass court at the Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre with Rachael - eager to prove the seeding committee correct in the women's final against second seeds Shelley Kitchen & Tamsyn Leevey, the New Zealand pair that won the World Doubles title on the same court in January.

The kiwis took the first game for the loss of just a single point, but the home pair struck back to clinch the title 1-9, 9-4, 9-3, 9-3 after 56 minutes.

"It's unbelievable, I have no words," said Natalie afterwards. "After a shower and a break, it will sink in and I'll probably be screaming from the rooftops."

Rachael added: "We know each other so well. We have an advantage over most teams as our communication is always there. It's really great for us."

In the bronze medal play-off, England's Tania Bailey & Vicky Botwright defeated New Zealand's Louise Crome & Lara Petera 10-8, 4-9, 9-4, 9-6 in 81 minutes.

The men's final provided the most dramatic doubles battle of all - contained within four games, but spread over more than two hours, with the final game alone lasting just a minute less than an hour!

The top-seeded Australians Stewart Boswell & Anthony Ricketts opened up a one-game lead - but determined Englishmen Nicol and Beachill fought back to clinch an impressive 7-9, 9-7, 9-1, 10-8 triumph in 142 minutes!

"It was a hard brutal game," said double gold medallist Nicol. "The final point was incredibly nerve-wracking. It's just a game of attrition in doubles.

"This means everything to me. The singles final was the best game of my life, and this was the hardest."

In the bronze medal play-off, Australians Dan Jenson & David Palmer beat New Zealanders Campbell Grayson & Martin Knight 9-2, 9-4, 6-9, 9-6.

Palmer said afterwards: "I'm really pleased with the effort, given that I had the worst preparation ever. Three medals given that I almost pulled out is a good result. Shame I came up against Peter Nicol who played unbelievably all tournament."

Hosts Australia top the final squash medals table, with eight medals in total (3 gold, 3 silver, 2 bronze), followed by England with five (2 gold, 1 silver, 2 bronze) and New Zealand with two (1 silver, 1 bronze).

Men's Doubles final:
[2] Lee Beachill & Peter Nicol (ENG) bt [1] Stewart Boswell & Anthony Ricketts (AUS)
7-9, 9-7, 9-1, 10-8 (142m)
Bronze medal play-off:
[3] Dan Jenson & David Palmer (AUS) bt [5] Campbell Grayson & Martin Knight (NZL)
9-2, 9-4, 6-9, 9-6 (89m)

Women's Doubles final:
[1] Natalie Grinham & Rachael Grinham (AUS) bt [2] Shelley Kitchen & Tamsyn Leevey (NZL)
1-9, 9-4, 9-3, 9-3 (56m)
Bronze medal play-off:
[3] Tania Bailey & Vicky Botwright (ENG) bt [4] Louise Crome & Lara Petera (NZL)
10-8, 4-9, 9-4, 9-6 (81m)

Mixed Doubles Final:
[3] Natalie Grinham & Joseph Kneipp (AUS) bt [4] Vicky Botwright & James Willstrop (ENG)
6-9, 9-6, 9-5, 9-6 (65m)
Bronze medal play-off:
[1] Rachael Grinham & David Palmer (AUS) bt [2] Shelley Kitchen & Glen Wilson (NZL)
9-4, 9-6, 9-6 (32m)