Meanwhile in the world of professional squash.
A true legend of the game, Grégory Gaultier , whom everyone knew as “The General”, has retired at the age of 38.
So what, you may say. Another sports personality walks off into the sunset to tend to his mansion.
Well, if this is what you’re thinking, you don’t know squash. It’s a high-intensity sport, a game where you need to be young, strong, quick and agile. Or – alternatively – very clever, very knowledgeable, very capable at using your head, not your muscles. You have to be superhuman to continue playing professionally when you’re in your late 30s.
Greg was, in a way very few other people can be. But today’s news not just about a great player, it’s also about a man of incomparable mental strength.
In 2019, Greg limped off court after playing a 74-minute game with a broken knee. He was 36 at the time, and he was still in the world’s top five. The other four were in their mid-20s.
What followed was a string of surgeries, some more successful, others, less so. At some point Greg was told he’d be lucky to walk again, let alone play.
And yet, he returned to the professional game. And when he did, he immediately beat the world’s No.3. Greg described his condition at the time as “less than 100% fitness and a hole in the knee”.
He also said he wanted to carry on until his 40th birthday. Sadly, this was not to be.
Greg has now joined the game’s other retired grandees. Like all of them, he was a true character on court, witty, streetwise, emotional. Much more fun to watch than the up-and-coming crop of clinically clean, powerful, fast and very strong Egyptians (with one or two exceptions which only prove the point).
Thank you, General. And here, in the Vilnius squash community, we can’t wait to see you for your masterclass in November.