Monday, 16 September 2013

Peter Barker: Defining Moment, Turning Point ?

On this past Saturday in the men's semi-final match between Peter Barker (Eng) and Borja Golan (Esp) there was an injury. Peter had hit a ball that was loose down the right side, just in line with the edge of the service box. Borja moved into a position just off the T, turned to the side wall to hit a forehand. Peter came up behind Borja, stood right over the center line.

Borja hit his forehand and his racket follow through swung up and was headed over his left shoulder as he started to turn forward with the swing. Very unfortunately, Peter being as tall as he is, and having taken up a position that was essentially in Borja's back pocket, the racket head and Peter's nose were on a perfect collision course.

Pretty much a knock out blow. Peter went down, and then up and out of the court. The skin was broken, and volumes of blood pouring out of the nose. The event doctor and medical staff attended to Peter off court, lots of ice and packing of the nose. The doctor's evaluation indicated a probable broken nose and advised a trip to the hospital. 

In the end, Peter chose not to go to the hospital, and the match was postponed until Sunday morning at 9:00am. This with the Men's final scheduled for later on Sunday at 3:00pm.

The end result on Sunday was that Peter had not only shown up in the morning to finish off the semi-final, but then came back less than five hours later to win the final against world #10 Tarek Momen (Egy).

What's significant about this? Well most will comment and then compliment Peter on his physical ability to tolerate pain, the extra endurance required to withstand that, AND finish off the semi-final, along with the final all within a 7 hour window. The ability to fight the distractions both immediate and lingering, are a testament to Peter's mental focus.

But what I'm wondering is: Will this event become a quiet moment of strength for Peter and his upcoming season? Will the intestinal fortitude ("No Guts, No Glory") that Peter found, to endure and prevail, auger in a new stretch in his career that will see him record more success?

Peter is a hulking, almost 'Spartan' like squash player. Someone who moves about the court extremely well for his height. An imposing player to be on court with. But he's a nice guy..... yes he's up for standing his ground on disputed calls, but he's fair and a gentleman. Ya, maybe too nice. Maybe the opponents know he's nice, and that actually gives them an advantage. 

I don't think Peter is going to change his personality, and certainly wouldn't wish it. The sport of squash is better for having such players at the upper echelon, as an example of what squash should be. Might say that he has a similar sense of fairness that Amr Shabana exhibits. 

Peter is sitting solidly in the Top Ten. But he's not made inroads to break into the top 4 or 5. Certainly with the quality of the players in the world top five, it's not an easy task, facing Ramy, Gregory, James, and Nick, a fearsome group of competitors. And of course to get to them in the later rounds, usually requires working one's way through a draw of hungry, fit, skilled challengers.

What I'm watching for over this coming season, is whether Peter will now have the confidence, the belief that he can push himself further than ever before, and start winning a few more of his matches against the top four. Was this past Sunday a 'Defining Moment' in Peter's career? 

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