Sports Gazette

by sports journalism students at St Mary's University, London

“I think we all enjoy the pressure and play better when it’s on”: Team England’s Daryl Selby on Gold Coast 2018, his successful family and the English rivalry

Posted on 3 April 2018 by Ben Morse

It’s not very often that England go into an international sports tournament where they are actually the favourites.

But for Team England’s squash team, there has been a track record of success at the Commonwealth Games. 

They have won eight golds since its incorporation into the Games in 1998 – one behind Australia, and have won the most overall medals with 34. 

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So what is like being a key member of a team with so much success and is there added pressure being part of a team that is comprised of big names such as Nick Matthew and James Willstrop?

Daryl Selby, bronze medalist in Glasgow 2014 and current world number 17, said when asked whether he has benefited from having such a successful team alongside him: “Yes and no. 

“It’s a weird one because in the first week in the singles they are the main rivals, so it would be better for me if they weren’t as good or weren’t there! 

“But I have benefited from being on the same team as them, especially in Glasgow when myself and James won a bronze in the doubles.”

The pressure that is heaped upon the Team England squad comes largely in the form of articles. One released on SquashInfo website was titled: ‘England set for double Gold Coast gold in Commonwealth Games singles.’

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For Selby though, this is simply the extra pressure that comes with being part of such a successful team: “I don’t think there is an added pressure. I think we all enjoy the pressure and play better when it’s on.”

Even Selby’s sister, Lauren, was a top-35 squash player during her career and Daryl is coached by his dad, Paul. 

And Selby was introduced to sport in general from a very young age. “I followed football very closely when I was younger,” he explains. “My heroes were Roberto Baggio, Alessandro Del Piero and Marco Van Basten. My dad was also a big inspiration as his passion for football and squash rubbed off on me.”

Selby reached a career high world ranking of world No.9 in April 2010 before going on to win the British National Championships in 2011, beating his team-mate and world No.1 Nick Matthew in the final. 

He also got to the semi-final of the Tournament of Champions in 2012 where he was defeated by another Englishman, James Willstrop. 

And when Selby looks back on his career so far, those few memories stand out.

He said: “Two things stand out for me. Firstly, winning the World Championships with England in 2013. To be part of a World Championship winning team and playing the key opening match and coming out victorious. 

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“Also becoming British Champion in 2011 beating the current world No.1 and world champion.”

It has not all been plain sailing for Selby, but even during tough periods of his career, he’s had the support and drive to work his way back. 

“I think I’ve been very lucky over the years to have the amazing support of my family,” he explains. “I’ve also been pretty lucky with injuries. 

“I had a herniated disc for about 15 months, which was horrible and I played in pain for a lot of that time. I had an injection and also worked hard in the gym to finally get rid of it.”

And Selby has set Team England and himself a very simple target for the upcoming Commonwealth Games. 

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Selby said: “Enjoy the experience and come back with as many medals as possible!”

And outside of the squash and the Commonwealth Games as a whole, what is Selby looking forward to most?

“I’ve never been to the Gold Coast,” he said. “So I’m not sure there is anything in particular but I’m sure I will enjoy the beaches, climate and food!”