Gold Coast 2018 bronze medalist Declan James is making the most of his time in lockdown, as he remains focused on making the Team England squash line up for the 2022 Commonwealth Games.
The Nottingham-born 27-year-old may well be one of the last sportsman to be able to return to competitive play due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Partly due to the close nature in which matches, and training are conducted in Squash.
However, James is keen stay mentally and physically in tune until that moment of normality arrives once again.
“Having a daily routine and checklist of things I need to get done each day ensures that I feel productive and training has been at the forefront of that.” James said.
“I’ve been training every day and been working really hard over the last six weeks, obviously they’ve been from a different point of view and I’m getting creative and having to improvise and find different ways to train the body but that has been quite fun.”
Ensuring he stays psychologically healthy has been just as crucial to maintaining his physical wellbeing.
“This time and situation can be very detrimental mentally if anything else, so I’ve been trying to make sure that I stay as positive as I can and use this time as an opportunity rather than a restriction to get better at certain things. That’s half the battle with squash. When you are physically in good shape and mentally in a good place then the rest takes care of itself. I’ve hit enough squash balls in my life to sort of know what I’m doing.”
Aside from training James was recently part of the Team England virtual athlete kit panel, where 23 athletes from 17 of the 19 Commonwealth Sports took part in the first discussions for the 2022 Commonwealth Games kit. This was on the back of the announcement that Kukri would be kit suppliers for Team England for the third consecutive Commonwealth cycle after Glasgow 2014 and Gold Coast 2018.
“When you are representing your country, the kit is a big symbol of that, it was great to be in that process I’m and looking forward to what Kukri and the rest of the team put forward. I take my dress and style very seriously as well, so it’s really cool to be involved.” James said.
“You want to stand out but remain classy and looking good at the same time so it’s important that we get this right so that everyone recognises us instantly from the way we are carrying ourselves. The clothing is a very important aspect of that.”
Birmingham 2022 will be the first home games for Team England athletes since Manchester hosted the games in 2002. James won a bronze medal in the men’s doubles with James Willstrop at the 2018 games in the Gold Coast, and will be hoping that the addition of home support will push him towards the podium once more.