HOME BOY BARKER
WANTS ONE BETTER
THE BIG CANARY WHARF INTERVIEW
LOCAL LAD PETER BARKER TALKS TO ALAN THATCHER
Barker, runner-up to Nick Matthew last year, is aiming to go
one better this year and win the Canary Wharf Classic for the
England’s world number seven is itching to get back on court
following treatment to a knee injury.
The 28-year-old left-hander said: “I had to withdraw from the
North American Open a few weeks ago and that’s only the second
time in my whole career that I have had to pull out of a
“I have had problems with my knee since playing in Hong Kong in
November last year. It finally came to a head in New York in
January when I played James Willstrop and the injury recurred. I
had hoped that a break over Christmas would help but it clearly
did not and so I booked myself in to see a sports doctor and
have a scan.
“The diagnosis came back that I had a torn meniscus and was
booked in for surgery on the following Monday. On the Friday I
got a call to say that they had mixed up the scan results with
someone else and the good news was that I did not have a tear.
were other issues that were treatable with physiotherapy,
rehabilitation and strength conditioning exercises to realign my
“Thankfully, that process now means that my knee feels better
than ever. Hopefully I can carry that fitness forward.”
With many of the game’s top stars, including Canary Wharf top
seeds Nick Matthew and James Willstrop, suffering recent injury
problems, Barker added: “To be honest, everyone is aware of the
dangers in playing a game like this. The priority has to be in
managing your body. That’s a big factor all the time.
“You cannot be 100 per cent fit all the time but you are just
trying to get as close to 100 per cent as you can. You aim to
peak for certain tournaments and you know that you can’t play in
every one. Like I say, you manage your body as best as you can.”
Barker was a member of the England team who finished runners-up
to Egypt in last year’s World Team Championship in Paderborn
and, like many of his team-mates, he was stung by remarks from
the Egyptian camp. Their coach boasted that his nation would
rule the game for years and added that England was failing to
produce any stars of the future.
said: “I still maintain that the success in Egyptian squash is
nothing to do with coaching. It’s purely driven by competition
and the number of players. That is where we can learn from them.
The abundance of players they are producing creates healthy
“We need to encourage more young people to play squash in
England and when you have the numbers the cream rises to the top
because the competition gets more intense.”
Barker, who lives with his wife Alex in Shenfield, Essex, is
stoically resigned to the fact that squash will not feature in
the 2012 Olympic Games taking place a few miles from his home.
He said: “Obviously, I am massively disappointed that squash is
not part of the Olympics. But that’s the reality of the
situation. I think the Games will be a fantastic success but we
can only wait and see if it will be worth the massive financial
investment in terms of medals.
“I have not got tickets and am thinking of getting out of town
while it’s on because London is going to be pretty chaotic.”
Before then, Barker is looking forward to his comeback
tournament and aiming to strike personal gold at Canary Wharf.
He beat England and Essex team-mate Daryl Selby in a Premier
League match on Tuesday and is now fully focused on a solid
showing at Canary Wharf.
added: “It was great to beat James for the first time last year
and reach the final. This time I would like to go one better.
“Coming back from injury, I am determined to enjoy it.
Sometimes, you can lose sight of the fact that we do what we do.
“The work I have put in during the last three or four weeks has
put me in the best shape of my career. I have not had a great
deal of squash in that time but I am hoping that as the week
goes on I can get better and better.
“Looking at the draw, I am seeded to meet Nick Matthew in the
semi-finals this year but I also face a tough quarter-final
against the German number one, Simon Rosner, who is playing very
well at the moment.
“As long as I am playing to my ability I will have a good crack
at it and aim to go one better than last year. Canary Wharf is
such a special tournament, one of the best in the world.
“I am hoping to get a lot of home support and would love to win
it before I get too old.”