EYEING SUCCESS: Ipswich’s long-serving squash player Brian Cook displays the concentration that has secured him so much international glory. Below right: Cook has savoured the world of enjoyment squash has given him.
EYEING SUCCESS: Ipswich’s long-serving squash player Brian Cook displays the concentration that has secured him so much international glory. Below right: Cook has savoured the world of enjoyment squash has given him. Claudia Baxter

Squash stalwart Cook to end Test career at 66

PREPARING for his 14th Trans Tasman series, Brian Cook is determined to bow out a winner.

Those who know the easygoing Ipswich squash player have heard his "last series'' call before.

However, Cook is sure next month's three Tests against New Zealand in Canberra will be his final court battle for Australia.

"Twenty-five years down the track and this will be my last time,'' Cook said, having first savoured the honour in 1988.

"I've just noticed that I'm still hitting the ball well at this age (66 next month), but changing direction I'm just not moving as quickly.''

He's part of a six-man, six-woman national team aged from 35 to over 60.

However, whether he wins or loses his final series, Cook will reflect fondly on 13 memorable Trans Tasman campaigns held every two years in Australia or New Zealand.

"I've only played in one losing test team. That's a fair record,'' the proud stalwart said.

Brassall-based Cook's favourite city to play in is Christchurch, where he also won a world title as an individual in 2008.

His other two world titles were in 1995 (Melbourne) and 2003 (Helsinki).

Playing against the Kiwis for the first time, he also enjoyed challenging 1968 Olympian Jan Borren, who later coached the New Zealand women's hockey team at the Sydney Olympics.

"I've always held him in high regard,'' the squash enthusiast said.

"I did beat him in 1988. He managed to beat me once in 1999.''

Cook is one of Ipswich's most durable sportsmen.

While he admits he's slowing down, he credits his long stint in the sport to being a latecomer to the game.

"I started hitting my straps around 25 years ago,'' he said.

"I started working out that I could actually play squash and go overseas as well.''

The well-travelled Cook has packed plenty into his 36 years of squash at local, state, national and international level.

His phenomenal record includes 17 Australian titles and three Masters Games gold medals.

He's been a Queensland Masters champion for 28 years, being unbeaten for 26 of those.

Cook has eight New Zealand national titles and was British Open runner-up three times. That included a recent second at the tournament regarded as squash's equivalent of Wimbledon.

His bogey player is English open representative Philip Ayton, a rival Cook jokes he may beat if the pair are still playing aged 120.

While this will be his final time in the Australian Masters team, Cook plans to keep playing fixtures, especially at his home court at Brassall.

But he's eagerly awaiting his next three-Test series in Canberra on August 30, September 1 and 7 - being held either side of the national titles.

Ironically, he'll finish where he started - just in a different age group.

His first series was in Sydney before being transferred to Canberra.

 

Smart training enhances international fun

BEFORE taking on the Kiwis for the final time, Brian Cook is heading to Italy for another World Masters Games (for all sports).

It's an event he's been contesting squash in since 1989.

"I've made wonderful friends all over the world,'' Cook said, delighted with what he has achieved.

"I always played a lot of sport as a youngster, but I never thought at this stage of my life I'd be enjoying myself so much travelling, playing.''

As to why he's still playing aged 65, Cook answers without delay.

"My longevity is due to not training too hard and just enjoying my game. I just basically play on instinct,'' he said.

"I started late and I haven't overstressed my body.''

With that approach to life and sport, it's hardly surprising Cook has won three world titles, 17 Australian titles, three Masters Games gold medals and eight New Zealand national titles.



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