Squash star forced to quit big time

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A hip injury has been causing the 26-year-old problems over the last few months during tournaments all over the world.’I’m living in the real world now,’ Hopkins said ruefully.

‘I had an MRI scan and there is a problem there which, while it improves if I rest, will never disappear.

‘I spoke to Dr Carl Clinton who said that it won’t go away.

I’ve been resting it since March, and, although I can still do the basics, the twisting and turning action in the game is a problem because the tendons and ligaments are what have been damaged.

‘The good news is that the scan showed that my joints are fine and show no signs of wear and tear.’Ranked 33 in Britain and 84 in the world at his peak, Hopkins will not be retiring from the sport altogether.’I hope to be able to continue playing squash, and coaching, locally, and to keep my Dorset squad place and, perhaps, qualify for the Commonwealth Games in 2006.

I still have the skills – I just can’t play every day.

I’m fine if I play just now and then, the problems happen when I play day after day, week after week.

‘If I don’t compete regularly my world and national rankings will drop.

‘I haven’t been able to get any major sponsorship and this injury has come at just the wrong time.

It has been very difficult, financially.

‘On top of the injury it was getting to the point when I just couldn’t afford to compete.’But I want to play for Jersey in the Island Games in Shetland in 2005 – it’ll be the first time squash has been included in the Games.’Having seen a good friend and fellow competitor on the British squash tour burn himself out as he attempted a couple of comebacks after injury, Hopkins does not want to go the same way.’It is hard, mentally, to stay motivated when you’re carrying an injury and I don’t want to end up completely crippled.’He has continued training, however, and is now putting that into good use.’I’ve signed for St Peter Football Club,’ Hopkins said.Football was his main sport before he took up squash professionally and he was a Star Trophy squad member as a youngster.’I took up squash because that’s the sport my father played after he had to give up football following an injury – I’m doing the same but in reverse.’Also like his father, Hopkins plays in goal – ‘well with this injury it’s just as well I was never a forward!’ – and said that the fast reactions honed while playing squash should help him.’I’ve got to work on decision-making and positioning.

I’m training with the team every week,’His sporting ambitions are certainly not confined just to playing a bit of weekend football.’I want to get into the Muratti squad as soon as possible,’ he said.’I believe that because of the training I’ve been doing for so long, and the fact that I can take constructive criticism and learn quickly, getting into the Muratti team is not impossible.’

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