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Squashing the stereotypes

MAKING A RACKET IN COURT: The 31-year-old in action

IT WAS a tough decision having to choose between a career in football or squash for Adrian Grant but winning a Commonwealth Games gold medal as well as multiple international titles in the latter vindicated his judgement.

A former Chelsea youth team footballer, Grant was undecided as to which career path to follow but the individuality that squash possesses was the key factor as to why he pursued it.

Explaining being torn between the two sports, Grant, who took up squash aged just eight, told the Voice of Sport: “I was playing football for the Chelsea youth team and I was playing for England in squash and it just got to the stage where I had to commit to one.

“I chose squash over football just because I preferred the one-on-one competitiveness rather than having to rely on a team effort. It’s just me against the opponent so that’s why I chose it.”

MEDALLIST: Grant celebrates winning gold with team-mate Matthew

Together with Nick Matthew, Grant won a Commonwealth Games doubles gold for England in Delhi last year but the 31-year-old from Peckham, south east London, is perhaps better known for becoming the first black squash player to represent England; a fact that he was unaware of at the time.

“To be honest I didn’t even know I was the first black person until someone mentioned it,” admitted Grant, who made his England senior debut in 2004.

“One of the great things with sport is that it brings everyone together. When I was a kid the people who I was playing with were all white but it wasn’t an issue.

“I was just doing something that I loved and that was the main thing. Obviously I noticed that I was the only black kid there but I was just focusing on what I had to do.”

Squash may not be an Olympic sport but it is still played in over 175 countries by 20 million people, yet fails to receive major mainstream recognition.

When asked why he thought this was, Grant replied: “It’s really popular but not many people know how good England are at squash and I think it’s got this reputation, kind of like what tennis is trying to get away from, of being a white collar sport which it’s not. It’s far from that.”

Once ranked ninth in the world rankings, Grant has been sidelined through injury but was pleased with a recent showing at the British Grand Prix where he reached the semi-finals.

“After the Commonwealth Games I was out for six months with a torn hip,” he explained.

“This was my first tournament back and on the way through I beat the world number three and four so it’s been a good stepping stone. The rehab is going in the right direction.”

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