Three-time Commonwealth champion Nick Matthew has confirmed he will retire from professional squash at the end of the coming season.
The Sheffield star will make his final global appearance at the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games before hanging up his racquet at next year’s British Open.
With two Commonwealth singles titles from Delhi 2010 and Glasgow 2014, and a third doubles title, also from Delhi, Matthew is more determined than ever to end his illustrious Team England career with a fourth Commonwealth gold medal in Australia.
“It’s been a difficult decision in many ways, but the timing has been an easy one because this has been the season that has motivated me since the last Commonwealth Games,” said Matthew.
“Most of the time I didn’t think it was a reality that I would be able to make it but this was always the season that if I had a choice I would have said to be my last one.
“Having a home World Championships in December and the Commonwealth Games in April, they’re the two things that have really inspired me and I want to go out on a high.”
Having represented England at every Commonwealth Games since Melbourne in 2006, the former world No.1 has his fair share of career highlights, but insists his proudest moment came when he was selected as England’s flag bearer for the opening ceremony in Glasgow.
“That was an amazing honour to carry that flag because it’s an image that I will have up in my house and look back on forever.
“People have won world titles but not really been bestowed that honour so that was a really big one.”
Electing to concentrate his efforts solely on the singles competition at the Gold Coast, Matthew believes combining a reduced playing schedule with increased rest between training camps will ensure he arrives in Australia in peak physical condition to defend his title once again.
“I’m not just planning on announcing my retirement and going out on a farewell tour, I’m actually doing fewer tournaments this year so I can perform at my maximum level on select occasions,” said Matthew.
“I have to realise the most important thing is I’m healthy and able to go out there and do myself justice.
“If I can do that then hopefully the gold medal will look after itself.
“I know it’s not going to be straightforward but I’m looking forward to the challenge.”
With just over six months to go until Matthew takes to the global stage for one final time at Gold Coast 2018, his final season will provide the opportunity for England to say goodbye to one of its greats.
And despite all the sacrifice, and the highs and lows that come with any season, the opportunity to be part of Team England next April remains primary source of motivation behind his final swansong.
“It’s extra special in the Commonwealth Games, you’re not just pulling the shirt on in your own sport you’re doing it with other like-minded people in other sports and you all come together as a team.
“It’s something I can’t wait to do as the senior member of the team this time around.”