(ISN) – Team BC posted two significant upsets in squash at the 2015 Canada Winter Games on Wednesday as Michele Garceau won gold in the women’s individual and Burnaby’s Matthew Toth won bronze on the men’s side.
The medals are the first ever for B.C. in an individual squash event at the Canada Winter Games.
“I came into the competition seeded fourth so in my mind, just keeping my seeding would have been a great result,” said Garceau. “To win the gold, I’m just ecstatic. I don’t know what to think.”
Garceau upset the number one ranked squash player from Ontario in the semi final match and despite some nerves, stayed patient and stuck to her game plan in the final.
“I knew I had to wait out the points,” she said. “My plan was to play aggressively but in a way that I made sure I didn’t make mistakes. I was very patient and stayed focused and waited for my opponent to make mistakes.”
The 18-year-old picked up the sport when she was 11, after some encouragement from her dad, who also plays squash. A few years into her training Garceau recognized she had talent and could see a bright future for herself in the sport.
“I train in North Vancouver and I started to see girls from B.C. going to play at Ivy League schools in the United States and I knew that was something I could do.
That goal was realized this fall when Garceau became a student at Cornell University, where she is a member of the varsity squash team.
“It’s just amazing,” she said. “I get to play squash at such a high level as well as go to a great school and get an education. I don’t have any plans to play pro at this point but who knows, maybe in a few years that will be something I want. For now this is the highest level I can play and I get to have a great college experience.”
Garceau’s father was at the gold medal match at UNBC on Wednesday night and was part of a large contingent of Team BC fans.
“My dad flew up and it was so great to have him here,” she said. “Whether or not I won, I was so happy to see him. He told me from the very start that he believed in me and that I could win. It really meant a lot to have him there.”
Richmond’s Matthew Toth had a slightly different experience than Garceau in his bronze medal match. The 17-year-old also had a full house of cheering fans, and while they were cheering loudly for him, they were supporting his opponent just as much.
Toth pulled an upset in the semi final match and ended up squaring off against fellow Team BC player Gavin Maxwell (Victoria).
“It was really weird to be playing against my teammate,” said Toth. “It made it hard because we really like each other and I think at the beginning of the match we started out slow but then part way in we both realized there was a bronze medal on the line and it got pretty intense.”
The match went to five games and by Toth’s account, could have gone either way.
“It was a really close match and I was lucky to squeak it out,” said Toth. “He is really fast and when I hit a lot of fast shots he reacts really well to it so I tried to keep my shots tight against the wall so he couldn’t attack me.”
Toth was not seeded in the top three, which makes the bronze medal especially sweet.
“It was an amazing feeling,” he said. “As soon as we were done we went right into the medal ceremony – I didn’t even have time to cool down – and I don’t think it sunk in until they put the medal around my neck.”
Team BC continues in the squash competition this week with the team event.