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29 October 2014

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North Walsham squash player Cassie Jackman.
Cassie Jackman is bowing out of squash

Cassie Jackman retires

One of the country's top squash players has been forced to bow out of the game due to health concerns. Cassie Jackman, from North Walsham, is ranked as the world number two but she has decided to retire after suffering a third back injury.

After 13 years at the top of her game, Cassie Jackman announced her retirement from squash this week.

After sustaining the third major back injury of her career, the world number two seed has decided enough is enough.

"I’ve been playing squash for such a long time, and it’s such a physical game, I think my body’s finally had enough," said the North Walsham player.

"It’s really disappointing because things have been going well and I was looking forward to a good 2005," added Cassie.

The last of her 28 World Tour titles came at the first major event to be held in mainland China, the Shanghai World Stars Championship, in November.

But the first signs of fitness doubts came in the next tournament, the Qatar Classic.

Cassie suffered breathing problems in her semi-final against rising Dutch star Vanessa Atkinson, a match from which she was forced to retire.

It was at the World Open in Malaysia, the tour’s most prestigious event, when she knew it was probably the end of her playing days.

"My left leg, during the second round match against New Zealand’s Shelley Kitchen, just felt dead," said Cassie.

"As soon as I tried to put pressure on it, there was nothing there. I think I knew deep down there was a problem, because it was the same problem I’d experienced before my first back operation."

It was in November 2000 when Cassie, the world number one since January that year, went under the knife for what would be the first of two disectomy operations on the same disc, a procedure that involves a partial removal of sections of the spine.

Amazingly she returned after both operations to reclaim the top spot in the world within a year, but this time she knew a return would be a step too far.

"Obviously, I was hoping that when I got home from Malaysia and had a scan it wouldn’t reveal any serious problems, but it did just that," she said.

"Once I had a chance to look at the test results, I realised it was the same problem on the same disc I’ve already had two operations on. It was the worst news I could have had," she added.

It is the end of one of the most illustrious careers in British women’s sport, let alone squash.

She's won 28 World Tour titles since 1991, the 1999 World Open crown, had two spells as world number one, is the only woman to have won squash medals at two Commonwealth Games in 1998 and 2002, and an MBE for services to British sport, fittingly awarded in what would be the last season of her playing days.

last updated: 23/12/04
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