Year 8 student, Mariam, secures Championship!
We are incredibly proud to announce that Year 8 SGGS student, Mariam secured the title of Girls Under 13's English Champion in Squash! Mariam won top spot at the AJ Bell English Junior Champs 2021 held at Nottingham from 28 to 30 October! This is actually the third English title for Mariam (she won the title twice before in the under 11's age group). The championship was cancelled last year due to the pandemic, but Mariam performed a fantastic return and is now reigning champion! What an outstanding achievement! We caught up with Mariam and asked her to comment on her win, how she prepares both mentally and physically in what must be a very intensive sport and atmosphere and where she will go from here.
"Squash is a fast-moving racket sport which is supremely tough and battling away with my opponents can be very exciting. I think I first grabbed a squash racket when I was around 3 years old. However, I started to train regularly and take it seriously at the age of five years old. My dad is the one who got me into squash, and he is my coach. He is very experienced and has been playing the sport for a long time. I also have an older brother (AbdAllah) who plays squash at a high level too. So it has been great for me to have someone to look up to and occasional train with.
I am very committed to squash and I train very often, some may say too often! I train every day with the occasional day off. The resting day is usually the day before a tournament. It can be tricky and stressful for me to balance school and squash. But my teachers are very supportive and helpful, by making all resources available so I can catch up with any missed lessons due to tournaments.
Tournaments can be stressful and it’s easy to start second guessing yourself before you begin to play. Mentally preparing yourself is very important; Finding what relaxes you is very important, I like to find a space where there are no distractions. This really helps me to zone in and to focus on my match. Also, it is important to prepare for the crowd. When I know that my opponent has an audience full of fans, it is crucial to stay calm and focus on the match and not get distracted. This is all something that comes with a lot of practice. When I am getting ready for a match I must think about my opponent. The more I know about my opponent, the better prepared I am to win. I must think about their strengths and weaknesses and come up with tactics. The last and most important strategy that I use to prepare for my match is visualizing the game. Before the match I like to mentally run through any problems that I may encounter and how I am going to handle them. This approach helps boost my self-confidence and works to connect my mind and muscles.
Due to the covid pandemic I was unable to play any tournaments during the 18 months where the restrictions were at their strictest, this was a tough experience as I faced a lot of challenging times because I was unable to have access to my usual training facilities. So, winning the title of the English Junior Championships was great. Even though I won, I still acknowledge the mistakes that I made during my matches, and now I can set goals for myself and work towards my target. Winning this title really made me realize where I am today and what I may become in the future.
My hope is to be a professional squash player but also for me having a good academic career is also very important. As well as continuing to play squash I would also love to be a dentist or an engineer. Thanks to the encouragement of my family, friends, and school, I’m where I am today and couldn’t be happier!"