Putting Jamaica on the squash map
There are not many sports in which Jamaicans participate that one of our countrymen can boast about being a six-time champion.
Track and field would be the first to come to mind. However, one of the last we might think about is squash. Jamaica's Chris Binnie can make that claim in the sport. This summer, he won the Caribbean Area Squash Association's Senior Championships to claim the Men's title for a record-breaking sixth time.
Sponsored by WATA, Binnie is Jamaica's highest ranked player on the Professional Squash Association (PSA) World Rankings, currently at 101. From his base in Connecticut, where he trains, he travels around the world to compete and fulfil his mission to "put Jamaica on the squash map around the world".
Squash is a high-speed racket sport played in a walled court with two or four players chasing a tiny rubber ball. Competitive by nature, Binnie enjoys more than the physicality of the sport - also the mental strength that is required for an effective game. "Squash is not just pure athleticism. Some like to describe it as a chess game on the court," he explained. "You are always trying to think two or three moves ahead of your opponent, but at a pace that is so quick that you really have to be mentally sharp."
Binnie got into the sport when he was about seven years old and his mother, Gillian, started to play squash at Liguanea Club. She used to take him with her and put him on the court. He has been playing ever since.
Binnie's travels on the PSA World Tour have taken him to countries in Europe, the United States, Canada and around the Caribbean. He ranks the Caribbean countries and New Zealand among his favourite destinations. "Wherever I am in the Caribbean, the people are warm and friendly and I love the food. It always feels like I am going home," he told Flair in a recent interview. New Zealand's ranking as a favourite for Binnie might be due to similarities he has found with the Caribbean. "New Zealand is gorgeous and untouched, with great people who are laid back and relaxed - similar to Caribbean people," he said.
The very affable 26-year-old said that when he is not playing squash, he enjoys watching football and movies on his off days - he coaches part-time at Trinity College as the assistant coach. He loves the beach, so when at home in Jamaica, usually during the summer, that's where you are most likely to find him on a Sunday. He loves Jamaican food and culture and when away from home at his training base in Connecticut, he seeks out the Jamaican restaurants in the area where he lives, and tries to stay involved with the Jamaican community as much as his schedule allows.
As Chris continues on his journey to be at the top of the squash game in the world, he plays tournaments in the United States and Canada for the rest of this year, and then spends the first part of 2016 playing tournaments in Europe. Always patriotic, Chris will continue to carry and fly the Jamaican flag high, making us all proud wherever he goes.