Queen's Baton Relay: 'Commonwealth Games is the pinnacle of my career'

Joe Chapman
Image caption Joe Chapman, with the Queen's Baton

At the age of 15, Joe Chapman from British Virgin Islands was the youngest ever squash player to compete at the Commonwealth Games..

Now 23, he has turned professional and is training hard for his third Games in Glasgow this summer.

"For me, the Commonwealth Games is the pinnacle of my career and more important than any of my pro tournaments," said Joe.

"Because the Commonwealths are recognised throughout sports and across generations by people who don't know squash, maybe wouldn't understand a British Open title, or a World Championship title. But they would understand a medal at the Commonwealth Games.

"And also, there are fewer opportunities to perform at your best. You have one shot."

Squash is a 'core sport' that takes place at every Games. For Joe and other players, the Commonwealth title is one of the most coveted in the sport.

Joe added: "Coming from a small territory has been to my advantage as I have been able to go and compete internationally from a younger age.

"It is important to not think about how big the other countries are, or how big the talent pools they have to choose from - rather, to focus on yourself.

"At the end of the day, players from the big countries are individuals as well, and so it just takes a bit of confidence to say 'I am going to get to that level, and I don't care how hard it is'.

"I chose squash, because it was the sport (growing up) that I thought was the most challenging, had all the components to it: It has technique, it has fitness and it is a very thoughtful sport.

"Tortola (on the British Virgin Islands) is a very small island. So team sports aren't as relevant, because there isn't so many people, so you really have to pick an individual sport."

Joe is currently ranked 108th in the world and been competing on the professional tour since graduating from a US college last year.

"You need to be where the best players in the world are," he added. "So once you get to the point where you are not being challenged in your home country, whatever age that is, you need to start seeking out better players.

"Because of our proximity to the US and because of the importance that US colleges put on sport, that is a great avenue for young athletes from the British Virgin Islands.

"England right now is dominant within the Commonwealth, they took gold, silver and bronze in the men's at the last Commonwealth, and all three of them are top ten in the world."

However, Joe is not worried about the English favourites. He is once again looking forward to representing his island nation, with hopes of upsetting the odds in Glasgow.