Squash: Knight puts sport before all else

By Shane Hurndell

New Zealand squash representative Martin Knight is a realistic bloke.

The Auckland-based Knight, who boasts a world ranking of 48 and is the No 2 in the Kiwi men's team to play at the June World Champs in France, knows he will be too old to play at the 2020 Olympics. But the two-time Commonwealth Games player intends to do everything within his power to promote the game and boost its numbers in the buildup to the next vote for Olympic inclusion in six weeks.

Part of Knight's campaign will be a third visit to Hawke's Bay's Havelock North club for an exhibition match on Tuesday night and a coaching session the following day.

"I've won my last two exhibition matches at Havelock and I intend to maintain my record," Knight, 29, said as he pondered his match with Kiwi No 3 Evan Williams, who has a world ranking of 85.

The fulltime professional is on a high after recovering from a calf injury collected in June last year when playing Kiwi No 1 Campbell Grayson at the South Island championships.

"Since then I've had different problems down the same side of the body ... my hip and achilles in particular. Touch wood, things are pretty good at the moment. Thanks to different specialists we've isolated some of the problems and come up with a plan which should see me back to my best when the world champs start," Knight said.

France will be Knight's fifth world championships with the New Zealand senior team. In 2007 the Kiwis finished 10th in Pakistan, the best finish he has experienced with the side.

Switching into realistic mode again, Knight predicted a top 16 finish for the Kiwis in France.

"We've lost a couple of our older and more experienced players during the last three or four years and we're building for the future," Knight explained.

Twenty-year-old Paul Coll of Greymouth, who has a world ranking of 102, and the 44th-ranked Grayson will join Knight and Williams in the Kiwi team. This is the same Kiwi quartet which played at the world champs in Germany in 2011.

Since becoming injury-free, Knight has been training up to five hours a day six days a week.

"I don't coach as much as I would like because I train and play full time," Knight said.

From April to August he is based in New Zealand and during the Kiwi summer Knight is based in the United States. In recent years Knight has been trained by former New Zealand representative Glen Wilson when in the States and when in New Zealand he is coached by national coach Paul Hornsby.

This level of commitment has seen Knight represent New Zealand at the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne and at Delhi in 2010.

"In Melbourne I was one of the many unfortunate Kiwis who collected a fourth placing," Knight said referring to his and Grayson's men's doubles placing.

The pair finished fifth in Delhi where Knight and Joelle King captured silver in the mixed doubles.

Knight is planning to play at next year's Commonwealth Games in Scotland providing he is injury-free.

"After those Games I will reassess my playing future. If my body is right realistically I could continue for another couple of years ... if it isn't I'll have some hard decisions to make."

- Hawkes Bay Today

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