Binnie taking squash to new heights
Eight-time National men's squash champion Chris Binnie has been nominated for Sportsman of the Year for the first time in his career and the first ever for a squash player.
Binnie, track and field athletes Omar McLeod and Usain Bolt, cricketers Christopher Gayle, Nikita Miller, Chadwick Walton, and national Reggae Boyz captain Andre Blake will vie for the national award at the January 19 ceremony at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel.
"It's incredible to be nominated with the likes of Bolt and Gayle, among others," said Binnie, "It's a very big honour for me; I think I'm the first squash player to be nominated for Sportsman of the Year award. Again, I'm appreciative and humbled to be up there with those other top athletes, and it just means I have had a great year. Whether I win or lose, this gives the sport great exposure. I want more people to get involved."
In 2017, Binnie won his third professional title when he defeated Syed Bukhari of Pakistan at the Meadow Mill Athletic Club's 25th anniversary celebration tournament in Baltimore, USA. He also successfully defended his national and regional titles.
The now-eight-time Caribbean champion concluded 2017 on a high when he became the first Jamaican to compete at the Professional Squash Association World Championship in Manchester, England.
Binnie ended the year ranked number 65 according to the World Squash Federation (WSF), the highest ever ranking for a Jamaican.
"That was very big for me and the Jamaican squash community as well. It shows that the work I'm doing is making me grow as a player, and I hope I can continue to raise the flag higher and move up the rankings next year." Binnie told The Gleaner in a recent interview from his New York training base.
Chris Hind, president of the Jamaica Squash Association, has expressed his delight at Binnie's nomination.
"He (Binnie) continues to make tremendous steps in what is considered a minority sport," shared Hind "To my knowledge, he is the first to ever be nominated for the award from this sport. He has won categorical awards before, but this is a tremendous accomplishment. He is very deserving of this nomination."
Hind also believes Binnie has an enormous upside and is yet to reach his peak in the sport as he made reference to current world number-six seeded Nick Matthews of Great Britain.
"Squash players don't get to their peak till their early 30s," he said, "Take Nick Matthews, for example: At 27, he was ranked number 44 and by 30, he became world number 1, and we (Jamaica Squash Association) believe he has what it takes."
Binnie turns 29 on January 26.
With his 2017 accomplishments behind him, the goal for Binnie in 2018 is straightforward: He has his sights set on the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia April 4-15.
"As for the Commonwealth Games, there are no specific preparations for the in terms of training camps. The idea is that I'm preparing for my pro events first with the onus on doing well at the games, because it will be just like another event, and I have about eight tournaments between the middle of January and end of May. I'm back in the States now, so I'm fully focused on getting in shape for my first competition," shared Binnie, who also revealed that football is his first love and is an ardent Manchester United supporter.
"I want to defend my national and Caribbean titles, win a gold medal at the Central American and Caribbean Games in July, help the Jamaica team qualify for the Pan-American Games next year in Peru, and certainly do my best to get into the top 50," he disclosed.