Champion squash player Paul Coll has been labelled “the most underrated athlete in New Zealand” following his Commonwealth Games gold medal.
The world No.2 went into the Games as the top seed off the back of a whirlwind year of tournaments, which saw him defend his British Open title in April, but opponent Joel Makin did not make it easy for him.
A five-set match was all that could separate the two (3-11, 11-9, 8-11, 11-8, 11-7), with Coll eventually prevailing after a 95-minute effort on the court.
After the match, Coll told Sky Sport “it was one of the best moments of my life” and that he had “been dreaming of this” for a long time.
Kiwi sports commentator Mark Watson has lauded the 30-year-old for his remarkable efforts, saying Coll needs to be “put up on a pedestal” as one of the country’s greatest athletes.
“(It’s) one of the toughest sports aerobically … absolutely brutal,” Watson said on SENZ Mornings.
“I think (he is) the most underrated athlete in New Zealand sport … there needs to be more conversation around him.
“I think he needs to be … really sort of put up on a pedestal. You go back to the likes of Greg Norman and clearly Dame Susan Devoy, but to do what he’s done; World Championships, now Commonwealth Games gold medal (is incredible).”
“You’ve got to have a head like granite, he had to come from behind to win that in five (and he’s) a boy from the West Coast who’s just gone and done it on his own.
“That’s the other thing too, I’ll always say this – I’m a big believer in funding, but I think a champion will always find a way of becoming a champion no matter what.
“If you want it desperately enough you will get there, and I think he is very much a metaphor for that.”
The Commonwealth gold is the latest in a string of victories Coll has had this season, namely taking the titles at the Canary Wharf Classic, CIB Squash Open Black Ball and Allam British Open.
It also marks his third medal at the Games, having earlier secured silver in the men’s singles and bronze in the mixed doubles with partner Joelle King in 2018.