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Thursday, 20 June, 2002, 10:28 GMT 11:28 UK

Palmer sure of Aussie success

By Mike Burnett
BBC Sport Online

Australian David Palmer is hoping he can help his country's squash team to unprecedented success at this year's Manchester Games.

When the sport made its Commonwealth debut at Kuala Lumpur four years ago, the Australians topped the squash table with six medals.

Now, with Palmer and women's favourite Sarah Fitz-Gerald leading the charge in Manchester, the players from 'Down Under' look set to dominate again.

"Australia did really well last time and could come back with even more medals this time," Palmer told BBC Sport Online.

"On paper, Jonathon Power is the favourite, but even he is beatable"
David Palmer

"The Australian team is looking very strong with the likes of myself and Sarah Fitz-Gerald as well as Anthony Ricketts and Stewart Boswell.

"If anything, I think it'll mainly be between England and Australia."

Palmer, one of the hot favourites to pick up the men's title, is desperate to add a Commonwealth Games medal to his impressive tally of victories.

"It's probably the second biggest event of the year for me after the World Open," said the world number two, who lives in Antwerp, Belgium.

"I won the British Open last year, so now I've set my goals to win at the Commonwealth Games and the Worlds."

The 6ft 3in Australian suffered an early exit at this year's British Open in April, but insists that he will ready for success in the summer.

"The British Open was a little disappointing - I was sick and got knocked out early," he said.

"But I've had a great season so far and so long as I'm fully fit, I should be good form for Manchester."

But Palmer knows that competition in the men's singles is tight and he will he faces a strong challenge from players such as Jonathon Power, Peter Nicol and compatriot Stewart Boswell.

"The men's competition looks very open with four different guys in with a chance - it's really good for the game."

"On paper Jonathon Power is the favourite, but even he is beatable."

At the moment though, Palmer, who will be 26 years old when the tournament begins, is trying to concentrate on his own game rather than worry about his rivals.

"There's always plenty to work on - overall you can never be perfect.

"I've got to be stronger because you have to play so many matches in a short time.

"And with so many good players around, even the qualifying matches can be quite tough."

Palmer will have an even tougher schedule in Manchester as he goes for gold in the doubles event with Paul Price.

"I have a pretty good chance in the doubles.

"Paul and I recently won the World Doubles Invitational at Manchester, so we also got to try out the facilities there."

It seems that the other nations might have their work cut out if they are to stop the Australians cleaning up this summer.

Australia's squash team

Men: Stewart Boswell (ACT), Joseph Kneipp (QLD), David Palmer (NSW), Paul Price (VIC), Anthony Ricketts (NSW)
Women: Robyn Cooper (QLD), Sarah Fitz-Gerald (VIC), Natalie Grinham (QLD), Rachael Grinham (QLD), Liz Irving (QLD)
Section manager: Ken Watson (WA)
Coaches: Geoff Hunt (QLD), Roger Flynn (VIC)

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