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Best braced for tough test

MIKE KING, [email protected]

Best braced  for tough test

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Squash wonder-girl Meagan Best says she has left no stone unturned as she prepares for the toughest test of her career at next week’s Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast of Australia from April 4 to 15.

Best, the precocious teen who has dominated squash on the domestic and Caribbean front, acknowledged that a fierce challenge awaits her in her opening match against world-class English pro Alison Waters, a former British national champion and the tournament’s fifth seed.

“I feel pretty good. I have put in all of the work I possibly could. I feel confident and I am hoping for a good show,”  said The St Michael School student.

“This is like the Olympics of squash, all of the pros are going to be there. I know it will be tough, but I just want to see that the work is paying off and represent my country the best that I can,” said Best, who left here early yesterday morning for Miami.

Best, who turns 16 next month, is accompanied by her parents Michael and Gayle Best.

She said she was honoured to be chosen as Barbados’ flag-bearer.

“I have mixed emotions. It is obviously an honour to be carrying the flag for your country at such a prestigious international competition but I am a bit nervous as I have never been in front of so many people,” she added.

Last year, Best underlined her meteoric rise in squash by capturing the national title for the third successive year. She added the Caribbean crown and sealed an impressive year with a historic triumph in the Under-17 division of the US Open.

Squash will have a three-member team at the Commonwealth Games, with Best joined by Barbados men’s champion Shawn Simpson and Amanda Haywood. All three of them will play in the individual competition, with Simpson and Best also vying for mixed doubles honours.

Barbados are also being represented in track and field, badminton, netball, shooting, cycling, boxing and weightlifting at the 21st Commonwealth Games in Queensland.

Experienced sprinter Ramon Gittens is joined by seven other athletes in Shane Brathwaite, Burkheart Ellis, Stephen Headley, Nicholas Deshong, Tia-Adana Belle, Kierre Beckles and Sada Williams.

Jabali Breedy and Kimberly Gittens will be the ones hunting medals in the boxing ring and trying to follow in the footsteps of bronze medallists Junior Greenidge (2002) and Anderson Emmanuel (2006).

Teenager Amber Joseph, who secured gold and silver medals at the Junior Pan American Cycling Championships in Mexico last year, is the lone representative in cycling. The 18-year-old England-based rider will compete in the points race and the scratch race.

Dakeil Thorpe and Cory Fanus will take part in badminton, while Ivorn McKnee and Romario Forde are the weightlifting competitors.

Kristian Doughty, Marcus Smith, Mark Dowell and Tyrese Knight are competing in table tennis, with veteran Michael Maskell heading the shooting team of Michelle Elliot, Richard Arthur, Ronald Sargeant, Bernard Chase, Louis Estwick, Michael St John and Justin St John.

There are two triathletes – Matthew Wright and Jason Wilson – while Alex Sobers is the lone swimmer.