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Karen Meakins 2010 part 3

After making my debut on the Barbados Team in 2002, as the next 8 years passed I went on to win several tournaments at home as well as in St. Lucia and Trinidad. I experienced my first Central American and Caribbean Games (CAC) in Colombia in 2006 where I won a bronze medal in the mixed doubles with my good friend Gavin Cumberbatch (an amazing result really since there are no doubles courts in Barbados and this was the first time either of us had played on one!) and the Women’s Team also won bronze. That was a pretty special experience and a whole different level to Caribbean squash with teams such as Mexico and Colombia taking part. Another highlight was winning a silver medal in mixed doubles at the 2009 Pan American Squash Championships, this time with Shawn Simpson..

Karen with Barbados team mate Shawn Simpson #mixeddoubles

About 2 weeks after returning home from the CAC Games it was off to St. Vincent
for the Caribbean Championships (CASA). Nicolette wasn’t playing this year so I
was seeded #1. I had been runner-up in the past 3 finals but I was finally able to
turn this around when I beat Kerrie Sample from Trinidad 3-0 in the final. It was a
fabulous feeling to finally win the tournament that had eluded me in the past and I
had become Barbados’ first female Senior Caribbean Champion! As usual there
was no rest and it was straight into the Team Event. Funding is often an issue in
the Caribbean so when there is a big tournament like the CAC Games some
countries can’t afford to send teams to more than one tournament. Unfortunately
(or fortunately as my body would say) this meant there weren’t many Women’s
Teams this year and we only had 3 matches. We beat Trinidad in the final and
won our first Women’s Team title since 2005. With the combined results of all the
teams Barbados also became Overall Champions.
World Masters began 2 days later so I left St. Vincent early Sunday morning, went
home, did my laundry and was back on a plane at 5pm headed to Gatwick. A few
hours rest in the airport Yotel (lifesaver!!!) and back on another plane to Cologne. I
arrived at the hotel, unpacked and slept for 11 hours.
World Masters was to be a whole new experience for me as I was in Cologne all
by myself. After spending the summer with my team mates, it was now just me.
This turned out to be a great learning experience and I was cheered on from afar
via texts and Facebook messages. Everyday I would write an update on my page
and was always overwhelmed with the messages of support from all over the
world which would motivate me to play my best squash. I was playing in the Over
35 Event so after spending the year being the oldest player at all the tournaments
I was suddenly one of the youngest!!! Seeing players in their 70’s and 80’s
competing on court was and still is very inspiring and my goal is now to play in
every age group in the World Masters!
I was seeded 5/8 but in the bottom half of the draw which meant I avoided the #1
seed Sabine Schoene, once again luck was on my side. I got through to the
semi’s with 3-0 wins and there I met the #2 seed Yoriko Michishita from Japan. I’m
sure we were the tallest and the shortest women in the draw!!! I ended up winning
the match 3-1 and remember having to keep her out of the front as she had
deadly drop shots. In my first World Masters I had reached the final where
unsurprisingly my opponent would be the #1 seed and former world #6 Sabine
Schoene. I lost the final in 3 close games and was surprised at how disappointed I
felt. I am a fierce competitor which always drives me to be the best but my best
wasn’t good enough that day. The nice thing about Masters squash is that it even
though it is competitive it is also friendly and that was exactly how the match was
played. So on August 28

th which happened to be 10 years to the day that I had
moved to Barbados, it was time for a well earned rest as my squash season was
finally over.
When I arrived back in Barbados I was totally overwhelmed and humbled by the
reception I received. I would be in the supermarket and people would stop me and
tell me congratulations and they had been following me in the papers. They told
me how wonderful it was that I had put little Barbados on the world map. One old

lady even told me how she had been praying for me. It’s extremely difficult to
explain how such kind words from strangers made me feel. It really was a
wonderful time and 2010 was a very special year.
An unexpected end to the year was when I was awarded the Barbados Olympic
Association’s (BOA) Female Athlete of the Year award (even though squash isn’t
an Olympic sport the majority of our funding comes from the BOA so they are
extremely important to squash in Barbados). Unbeknown to me the fairytale
ending of 2010 was still to come…..I went to England for Christmas to visit my
family and the day before I came back to Barbados, the President of the Barbados
Squash Association, Craig Archer called me. He told me that I had been named
Barbados Sports Personality of The Year. I couldn’t believe it, what an absolutely
perfect end to a year that I will never forget.

10th National Title!!! # barbadossquash
Silver Medal in the Pan American doubles

Despite not being born in Barbados it is definitely my home and I often joke about being born in the wrong country by accident! My team mates will tell you how patriotic I am and I rarely compete in anything other than yellow and blue (our National colours) and always with my signature Barbados bandana.

The year was off to a good start..

The famous fist pump
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