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The World Games finals: golds for Crouin and Gilis

France’s Victor Crouin and Belgium’s Tinne Gilis are the new The World Games champions after they beat France’s Grégoire Marche and Great Britain’s Lucy Beecroft, respectively, while Colombia’s Miguel Rodriguez and France’s Coline Aumard won bronze.

3/4 seed Crouin came into the final having impressed in victories over Yannick Wilhelmi, 5/8 seed Shahjahan Khan and 3/4 seed Miguel Rodriguez. Today, just as in his quarter-final win over the USA’s Khan, Crouin was forced to call on his reserves of willpower and fight back from losing the first game.

After top seed Marche took an even first game 11-9, World No.18 Crouin was in a challenging situation when Marche had two game balls at 10-8 in the second.

The 23-year-old, though, was able to stay calm and saved both game balls before eventually levelling the tie with a 14-12 victory.

This time, it was Marche’s turn to respond and the 32-year-old regained the lead with a razor-tight 12-10 win.

From this point on, though, the World No.13 struggled, and Crouin was able to secure a first men’s squash gold at The World Games since Gregory Gaultier in 2013 with comfortable 11-3 and 11-2 wins.

Afterwards, Crouin said: “I’m so happy! My goal was to win a medal at this event and I return home with the gold! To beat Miguel and Greg back to back is huge for me. I did my best to recover from yesterday’s brutal semi-final but still had a rough night due to soreness. So, to win today means a lot to me!

“Winning the gold is a huge achievement for my country and myself and I am proud to have fought all the way until the end. So happy!”

Result: The World Games 2022, Men’s Final
[3/4] Victor Crouin (FRA) bt [1] Grégoire Marche (FRA) 3-2: 9-11, 14-12, 10-12, 11-3, 11-2 (66m)

Gilis celebrates her win

In the women’s final, top seed Gilis put in a mature performance to beat 5/8 seed Lucy Beecroft in straight games. The World No.13 was made to work hard for her wins in all three games by Beecroft who, like Gilis, had reached the final without dropping a game.

After going 7-5 down in the first game, Gilis found her accuracy to put together a scoring run of five unanswered points to earn three game balls. Although Beecroft managed to save two of these, Gilis was able to convert the third as she took the first game 11-9.

The second and third games followed a similar script to the first, with Beecroft more than holding her own before succumbing to a late scoring charge from the Belgian. In the second game, the 24-year-old accelerated away from 5-5 to 11-7, before a brilliant spell took her from 6-5 down in the third to an 11-6 winner.

“I’m really, really happy with my gold medal today,” Gilis said afterwards. “I hope I made my country proud, my family proud and everyone proud! I’m so, so happy, for sure!”

Result: The World Games 2022, Women’s Final
[1] Tinne Gilis (BEL) bt [5/8] Lucy Beecroft (GBR) 3-0: 11-9, 11-7, 11-6 (30m)

Rodriguez (right) serves against Steinmann.

Elsewhere, there were bronze medals for Colombia’s Rodriguez and France’s Aumard after they beat Dimitri Steinmann of Switzerland and Haley Mendez of the USA.

3/4 seed Rodriguez, who also won the bronze medal in 2013, began his hunt for a second World Games medal with a fairly comfortable 11-5 win in the first game before being pegged back 11-4 by 5/8 seed Steinmann in the second.

The fiercely tight games then followed, with Rodriguez saving two game balls to take the third game 12-10 and then edging the crucial fourth 13-11.

Reacting after his win, Rodriguez said: “It is always really special to represent my country. For us, getting a medal at The World Games is as important as an Olympic medal or World Championship event.

“After nine years, I am getting my second bronze at The World Games and I feel proud of the way I fought mentally to stay at the podium. Besides, we will keep our funding for our sport in Colombia and personally adding a bronze to the Colombian delegation total is enormous.”

3/4 seed Aumard, meanwhile, played a back-and-forth encounter with 5/8 seed Haley Mendez. Aumard took the first game 11-6 before Mendez responded with an 11-5 in game two. Aumard replied with an 11-9 in the third game to reclaim the lead, only for Mendez to once again level with an 11-6 win in the fourth.

In the decisive fifth game, Aumard was able to keep ahead of Mendez, finally edging the encounter with an 11-8 win to earn France’s first of three medals that day.

Result: The World Games 2022, Men’s Bronze Medal Match
[3/4] Miguel Rodriguez (COL) bt [5/8] Dimitri Steinmann (SUI) 3-1: 11-5, 4-11, 12-10, 13-11 (64m)

Result: The World Games 2022, Women’s Bronze Medal Match
[3/4] Coline Aumard (FRA) bt [5/8] Haley Mendez (USA) 3-2: 11-6, 5-11, 11-9, 6-11, 11-8 (43m)

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