Days after making history at the Commonwealth Games, squash player Hollie Naughton was chosen to carry the Canadian flag to the closing ceremony.
Marching behind her: a Canadian team that achieved the country’s best medal record in 20 years.
“I use that word ‘honest’, but I’m not quite sure what else it encompasses,” said Naughton, who was born and raised in Barnsley, England but now resides in Mississauga, Ontario. “I’m very honored to be here representing Canada in my first Commonwealth Games, making history in the squash community and now being the greatest of them all by leading Team Canada at the Closing Ceremony.
“If you had told me three weeks ago that my games would look like this, I would not have believed you. What an experience this week has been, it will take me a while to absorb it but let’s shut these games down for now!
Canada finished the Games with 92 medals, including 26 gold medals, surpassing the 82 medals won in Gold Coast, Australia four years ago. It was Canada’s best result since the team’s 117th medal win in 2002 in Manchester, England.
Canada finished third overall out of 72 nations as well as winning gold medals. Australia led with 178 medals, 67 of them gold, ahead of England with 176 medals and 57 gold.
CLOCK | Naughton makes Canadian squash history at the Commonwealth Games:
15-year-old swimmer Summer McIntosh was Canada’s top performer – winning two golds, three silvers and one bronze.
Michelle Li won Canada’s last medal, silver in badminton on Monday, hours before the closing ceremony. The 30-year-old from Toronto lost 2-0 to Venkata Sindhu Pusarla of India in the final.
Started playing squash at the age of 7
“I’m happy to bring home silver, I’m happy I got a medal, I’m a bit disappointed it’s not gold,” said Li, who won gold at the Glasgow 2014 games. “But today there is a lot to learn and take away.”
CLOCK | Li takes Canada’s 92nd medal in Birmingham, England:
Naughton became the first Canadian to climb the Commonwealth Medal podium in squash, winning silver. The 27-year-old started playing sports at the age of seven.
Naughton was disappointed in her 3-1 loss to England’s Georgina Kennedy in the gold medal match, but was emotional when asked about her story.
“You dream of achieving these milestones for your country and to be the first female medalist in squash is an incredible achievement,” she said. “Hopefully in four years I can turn it into gold.”
Naughton is a three-time Canadian Women’s Open champion. She was part of the Canada squad that won team silver at the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto.
The swimming team led Canada’s parade to the medal podium, winning 20, closely followed by the wrestling team, who won 12. 59 medals were won by women or mixed teams, and 33 medals were won by men.
The Canadian team was missing several big names from the Games, including swimmer Penny Oleksiak and sprinter Andre De Grasse.
Monday’s closing ceremony drew 30,000 fans to Alexander Stadium and included a formal handover to the Australian state of Victoria, which will host the 2026 Commonwealth Games.