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Page last updated at 11:08 GMT, Tuesday, 5 October 2010 12:08 UK

Khaaliqa Nimji makes Commonwealth Games debut aged 12

Khaaliqa Nimji

by Matthew Kenyon
BBC World Service

What were you doing when you were 12? It's unlikely that many - if any - of you were representing your country at the Commonwealth Games.

But that is exactly what Kenya's Khaaliqa Nimji is doing here in Delhi, mixing homework with international standard competition on the squash court.

Not surprisingly, she is the youngest competitor at the Games - and she is finding Delhi 2010 exciting, but a bit daunting, according to her father, Sadri.

"She's missing a bit of school and she's missing us because we can't visit her in the village [but] she's been enjoying it - she's been taking lots of pictures, she's also been doing her homework," he told me.

Sadri admitted that he had some doubts about his daughter coming to Delhi but said she deserved to take part because she had reached a high-enough standard.


She’s been playing since she’s was about 4 or 5. She started with tennis but she much prefers squash


Sadri Nimji, Khaaliqa's father

"I do feel she's a little young but she made it in the trials - she qualified on merit," he said.

Khaaliqa - born on 13 March 1998 - was beaten in straight games in her opening match in Delhi by Nicolette Fernandes of Guyana, who at 27 is more than twice her age, but despite the defeat it was clear she was enjoying the experience.

"We're not too worried about her results - it's really the experience. I hope that she gets a chance where she can get some confidence with perhaps an easier match but whatever [happens] it's really ok," her father said.

Racket sports are Khaaliqa's special talent. She also plays tennis, but squash in particular runs in the family with both her parents having represented Kenya in the past.

"She's been playing since she was about four or five. She started with tennis but she much prefers squash - she plays on the tennis team at school but sometimes I have to force her to practice her tennis because she loves squash so much," said Sadri.

Despite her opening defeat, 12-year-old Khaaliqa's work is not done here at the Commonwealth Games as she also has the second string plate competition to worry about, and is taking part in the doubles and the mixed doubles as well.

For her family, the results are not that important.

As her Dad says: "really just by being here she's won."


Khaaliqa goes to the same school attended by Achieng Ajulu Bushell one of the BBC's World Olympic Dreams athletes. Find out more about the school. .



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