ABOVE: Yamba's Cameron Pilley (right) took World Champion Karim Abdel Gawad to the limit for the second time in as many months. LEFT:  Squash sensation  Pilley pumps the air after scoring a winner against World No. 1 Mohamed ElShorbagy in Hong Kong.
ABOVE: Yamba's Cameron Pilley (right) took World Champion Karim Abdel Gawad to the limit for the second time in as many months. LEFT: Squash sensation Pilley pumps the air after scoring a winner against World No. 1 Mohamed ElShorbagy in Hong Kong. Contributed

PUSHING THE BOUNDARIES: Pilley wants one last golden moment

SQUASH: With the sweat drenched hoodie clinging to every inch of his body, Cameron Pilley looks deep within himself.

"Just one more rally. Just one more."

There is no length Pilley won't go to, to earn one more golden opportunity.

It is why he is dressed in a beanie, a hoodie and a pair of tracksuit pants, working hard in a gym at home in Denmark.

With a third Commonwealth Games berth on the Gold Coast on the horizon, Pilley is trying any way he can to emulate the hot and humid conditions.

 

Yamba's Cameron Pilley (right) took World Champion Karim Abdel Gawad to the limit for the second time in as many months.
Yamba's Cameron Pilley (right) took World Champion Karim Abdel Gawad to the limit for the second time in as many months. Contributed

Throughout April, the temperature in Copenhagen rarely reaches beyond single figures. On the Gold Coast, more than triple that.

"It is a fair bit different coming over from home," Pilley said. "I got in to Australia about two weeks before the tournament when I will hone the last bits of my game in the gym.

"Before then I needed to prepare myself for the conditions. I trained in the sweat pants and hoodie to get that sweat factor going.

"I did it for the first time a few years ago before the World Teams Championships in France. I trained like that, pushing myself, went away and played some of the best squash of my career.

"It feels like you are about to overheat, it is that constricted breathing. But for moments like these you need to push yourself to the limit."

Pilley is one half - along with Ryan Cuskelly - of one of Australia's top gold medal chances after taking out the World Doubles Championship in Manchester last year.

 

Cameron Pilley competing at the 2018 Windy City Open at the University Club of Chicago's Cathedral Hall.
Cameron Pilley competing at the 2018 Windy City Open at the University Club of Chicago's Cathedral Hall. Professional Squash Association

The 35-year-old will also compete in the singles in what he believes will likely be his last Commonwealth Games.

With squash not recognised in the Olympics, for Pilley this April will be the biggest moment in his career.

"Representing Australia and pulling on the green and gold is a real moment of pride for me. It is 100 per cent the best feeling in the world," he said.

"I remember in 2010, just being in the village with all the other athletes it was just such a proud moment. I was lucky enough to win the gold, and I was just overwhelmed.

"But I think this Games is going to be the biggest moment yet. It means just so much more, being so close to my hometown and with all my family and friends in support, it will be special."

Pilley will be aiming for his third gold medal in as many Games after winning the mixed doubles with Kasey Brown at Delhi 2010 and doubles with David Palmer at Glasgow 2016.

But standing beside one of his closest friends, who he grew up with less than 100 kilometres up the highway, will make a third gold just that much more special.

 

Ryan Cuskelly and Cameron Pilley are all smiles after winning the World Squash Doubles championship.
Ryan Cuskelly and Cameron Pilley are all smiles after winning the World Squash Doubles championship. World Squash Doubles

Cuskelly has only recently overtaken Pilley as the number one ranked Australian, but the Yamba star said their competitive streak only helps their bond as a team grow stronger.

"He has been letting me know about it every time we talk," Pilley said. "It is like having a sibling rivalry playing out on the world stage.

"The friendship between us has always been there. We used to train together, and when he broke onto the world squash stage a couple of years after me the rivalry soon followed.

"On the court you may have the Australian one and two, but really you just have two good mates. It is very special to be there in a team with Cuskelly. To play in the Commonwealth Games is such a special moment that you want to share it with someone who you are close with, we have that bond."

Pilley's biggest motivation will be in the stands on the lap of his partner Line Hansen.

Six-month-old Karla Hansen Pilley is what the Yamba squash star calls his greatest achievement and she has brought a new level of humility to the two-time gold medallist.

"She has made a huge difference to my life, mainly around my training schedule, but also the way I conduct myself on court," Pilley said.

"I have a beautiful little girl, who one day will be watching all my matches on Youtube, and I need to set the right example for her."



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