Inside Lines: Lee-way for squash as racket rivalry boosts Olympic dream


Great rivalries are the spice of sporting life, dating back to Ali and Frazier, Nicklaus and Palmer, Borg and McEnroe – plus surely the most iconic double act of all, Coe and Ovett. Now there is another home-grown twosome who, in a higher-profile sport, would regularly command the back pages.

Nick Matthew and James Willstrop are both gritty Yorkshiremen with a long-running and bitter rivalry. They are remarkable in British sport as respectively the world champion and current No 1, yet live within a few miles of each other; Matthew, 31, in Sheffield and Willstrop, 28, in Leeds. But there is little neighbourliness as they swap titles in pulsating and frequently tetchy duels. Unlike Coe and Ovett, who cannily kept their distance until the seismic Olympic collisions of the Eighties, they have battled regularly at domestic and world level. "Our relationship has never been that strong," says Matthew. "We are definitely not the best of friends but it's a healthy rivalry and good for the game." On Friday, squash's biggest hitters clashed for the 42nd time in the Canary Wharf Classic final in London's Docklands, an event designed to showcase the sport's attempt to gain long overdue Olympic recognition in 2020 – Matthew stretching his record to 33-9 over Willstrop for his 20th consecutive victory. Squash tried unsuccessfully for the 2012 and 2016 Games, and is up against seven other wannabes in 2020: karate, roller sports, baseball, softball, climbing, wakeboarding and wushu, which sounds like something to be sneezed at but is actually a Chinese martial art. Matthew thinks it has a compelling case: "The sport can now claim to be truly global. We tick all the boxes." Hoping to convince the International Olympic Committee is Mike Lee, the spinmeister hired to do for squash what he did for London 2012, Rio 2016, Qatar 2022 and rugby sevens – now elevated to Olympic status. A more gratifying task than his last – helping Premier League chairman Sir Dave Richards to pen a note of apology for his embarrassing buffoonery in Doha.

2012's heartening news

After the near-tragedy at Tottenham it is good to know arrangements are in hand to give the entire British Olympic team precautionary heart checks before the London Games. "We take the health and well-being of athletes extremely seriously," the British Olympic Association states. All 550 competitors will be screened for cardiac abnormalities by CRY (Cardiac Risk in the Young). Locog will have medical personnel at all venues and a polyclinic in the three Olympic Villages. There are formal agreements for hospitals, among them the London Chest Hospital where Bolton's Fabrice Muamba is recovering, to be on standby. Athletes have been treated for dehydration or exhaustion at the Olympics but there have only been two fatalities in 29 Games – the Portuguese marathoner Francisco Lazaro, 21, who had a heart attack in Stockholm in 1912, and thdrug-taking Danish cyclist Knud Enemark Jensen, 23, at Rome 1960.

It's kids' stuff for BoJo

Good to see that Boris Johnson is taking time out from electioneering to endorse a very different mayoral race. Twenty disabled children from London will get to take part in a unique sporting event at the Olympic Stadium next Sunday. Hosted by the charity Gold Challenge, they will feature in a special opening ceremony for the "Mayor's Race", parading around the track with 4,000 competitors, including many celebrities. The children will be chosen by the Panathlon Foundation, which runs multi-sport competitions for young disabled people across all London boroughs. Boris tells us: "This will give them the sporting experience of a lifetime and provide a wonderful taster for what is to come this summer." Ashley Iceton of Panathlon Challenge adds: "For these kids it is the stuff of dreams."

Snoop Dogg pictured at The Hollywood Reporter Nominees' Night in February, 2013
people... says Snoop Dogg
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
Life and Style
food + drinkZebra meat is exotic and lean - but does it taste good?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Residents of Derby Road in Southampton oppose filming of Channel 4 documentary Immigration Street in their community
Scottish singer Susan Boyle will perform at the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony in Glasgow
commonwealth games
A 1930 image of the Karl Albrecht Spiritousen and Lebensmittel shop, Essen. The shop was opened by Karl and Theo Albrecht’s mother; the brothers later founded Aldi
Lane Del Rey performing on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury 2014
people... but none of them helped me get a record deal, insists Lana Del Rey
Arts and Entertainment
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson stars in Hercules
filmReview: The Rock is a muscular Davy Crockett in this preposterous film, says Geoffrey Macnab
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

IT Portfolio Analyst/ PMO

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

Systems Analyst (Technical, UML, UI)

£30000 - £40000 Per Annum + excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Lt...

Cost Reporting-MI Packs-Edinburgh-Bank-£350/day

£300 - £350 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Cost Reporting Manager - MI Packs -...

Senior Private Client Solicitor - Gloucestershire

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: Senior Private Client Solicitor - We are makin...

Day In a Page

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn