Ahead of making his fourth Commonwealth Games appearance in today’s men’s doubles competition, Ryan Cuskelly is loving being back in the green and gold.
Speaking to Squash Australia the day after he entered the Athletes Village, the 35-year-old explained the welcome he received as he and his teammates dug into their Team Australia gear.
“We were too excited trying on R.M Williams and Macron stuff,” he said. “Getting the kit out is always the most exciting part of it.”
Unlike four years ago, where Cuskelly competed across three events – singles, mixed and men’s doubles, this time around at Birmingham 2022 he’ll be alongside Zac Alexander for the men’s doubles.
“Last time on the Gold Coast I was pretty focussed on the singles because I was pretty highly ranked at that time…I wanted a singles medal,” he said.
“This time I can just focus on that one event, I can rest and train.
“I’m looking forward to watching everyone play, especially seeing a couple of the younger players.
“I’m pretty relaxed at the moment because I don’t have a thousand things going on,” he added.
Ahead of the Commonwealth Games, the eight-player squash squad had been training in Glasgow, where they got to play against some potential opponents in New Zealand and Scotland.
However, most importantly, it was a great time for the team to bond.
“We got all the team together and practised together which is great. Went for lunch and dinners together.”
Cuskelly started in squash at the local club in Evans Head, which is 726km north of Sydney in the Northern River region, joining as his mother played volleyball.
“I used to go to the courts and hit the ball around. A lot of my friends started playing so it was more of a social thing to start then all of a sudden I became good at it,” he recalled.
The next thing he knew was he was playing at junior tournaments, state tournaments and then nationals.
“I enjoyed it. I had some decent success from a young age so I thought I was alright,” he said.
While Cuskelly had represented Australia on a handful of occasions, in Trans-Taman matches with New Zealand, he vividly remembers pulling on the green and gold for the 2004 World Junior Championships.
At the age of 16, he made the trip to Islamabad, Pakistan, where he made it to the second round before going into the Plate Events.
“I always love representing Australia and I’m pretty passionate about it,” he said.
Just two years later, Cuskelly graduated high school and made the decision to move to the United States, along with fellow Australian Kasey Brown, to further his career and be closer to high-quality global competitors.
Cuskelly and Brown were soon joined by his now Commonwealth Games teammate Zac Alexander.
“It was good because we were all Australians hanging out and training in this new country. It was a really good experience, “Cuskelly recalled. “I would’ve loved to stay in Australia but I’m still living there now and it was a great experience… it’s just the way it was if you wanted to make it on the tour.”
As one of the most experienced players in the squash squad, the debutants have been coming to him asking about his Commonwealth Games experience.
Full of wisdom, Cuskelly believes that sticking to a routine within the Athletes Village is important, especially with all the excitement.
“I’m sure once it kicks in they’ll get a little nervous so we will keep them calm saying ‘It’s all good. Go out there and try your best’.”
Men’s doubles at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games gets underway today.
This article has been lightly edited from a Squash Australia original. Click here to read the original article.