Joel Makin believes his physicality can be the difference when he takes on New Zealand’s Paul Coll in the squash men’s singles gold medal match at the Commonwealth Games.
Makin comfortably overcame England’s James Willstrop 3-0 on Tuesday evening to set up a mouth-watering tie with Coll, that sees the number one and two seeds go head-to-head for gold.
But Pembrokeshire athlete Makin knows he will be in for one of the games of his life against Coll.
“I've got the physicality and I think I can get into him on that front tomorrow,” said Makin.
"Paul has had a brilliant season. He has been quality and very consistent this year, it’s going to come down to who is playing the better squash tomorrow.
“It’s going to be about tight, accurate squash, getting the tactics right.”
This summer, Team Wales, supported by funding raised by National Lottery players, compromises of over 200 athletes, all vying for medal success.
Makin’s physicality was the key to his victory against Willstrop, as his sheer power was too much for the 2018 gold medallist, who was feeling the strain of his quarter-final victory over Scotland’s Rory Stewart.
But the Welshman was full of praise for 38-year-old Willstrop, competing at his fifth Commonwealth Games.
"I knew he was hurting physically but he actually came on stronger in the third game than he did in the first,” added Makin.
"His quality of shot is amazing, but the reason he's had longevity is because he has been so tough mentally.
“He was hitting shots more accurately towards the end, when he was fatigued than he was at the start."
Makin may have been playing on Willstrop’s home turf, but it certainly did not sound like it at times at the University of Birmingham.
The crowd was awash with Welsh dragons, with Makin’s family, including his great aunt, also part of the 1,600 watching on.
"The support has been unbelievable,” reflected Makin.
“Everyone has booked so much time off and my family has travelled from all over. My auntie has come from Perth in Australia this week to watch it. I appreciate it so much."
Victory on Wednesday would be the finest moment in Makin’s career, which has so far yielded a team bronze at the 2019 World Team Championships in Washington D.C.
And the 27-year-old is hopeful that whatever medal he walks away with, his success can bring the sport to a new audience in the wake of the Games.
"The Games bring in people who wouldn't normally watch the sport,” said Makin.
“When it gets coverage on the BBC, that is where we reach a wider audience and people realise what it's about.
|It's exciting. It's fast-paced. It's so intense."
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