French legend Thierry Lincou, the first continental European to top the men’s world squash rankings, has announced his retirement from the PSA World Tour.
Winner of the world title in 2004, twice a European champion and a record 11-time French national champion, Lincou has enjoyed a remarkable career. In his 44th Tour final appearance in April this year, ‘Titi’ won the last of his 23 Tour titles at the Bluenose Classic in Canada – on the eve of his 36th birthday!
1st topping the PSA world rankings in January 2004, Lincou went on to reign supreme throughout 2005. In April 2011, he celebrated 10 unbroken years in the world top 10 – one of only a handful of players in the sport’s history to achieve this incredible feat.
Originally from La Réunion Island in the Indian Ocean, Lincou has been based in Marseille for several years – but this week arrived in Boston, USA, where he is about to start a new career, while still coaching promising American junior players.
“I was seeing players of my generation retiring one after the other, David Palmer, Stewart Boswell. And I had been thinking very seriously about my reconversion,” Lincou told Framboise Gommendy of www.sitesquash.com
“I received a few interesting offers recently, and I felt that maybe, I was starting to lose a bit of motivation. A year more could have been the year too many, as my recent physical niggles made me realise I was not getting any younger, and that it was harder and harder to maintain myself at the highest level.”
“I’m leaving a whole chunk of my life in Marseille. The “Marseille Set Club” was my second home. I’m leaving behind my sparring partners, my squash mates and all the friends we’ve made here, and that goes for the four of us.”
Does he have a few regrets about his career? Yes. Like not winning the British Open – despite reaching two finals (against Nick Matthew and Gregory Gaultier), or just missing out on the World Team title in Odense, in 2009.
“I can still see myself in Denmark, in that decider against (Amr) Shabana, I had seven game balls in the third and fourth that I just couldn’t transform. It was a very high quality match, but I lost against a Shabana as imperial as ever in the crucial moments.”
Among his most memorable moments, of course, is his World Open title which he grabbed against England’s Lee Beachill in December 2004, saving a match ball in the fourth.
“Yes, that was a highly enjoyable match. I saved that famous match ball in a very aggressive way that surprised even myself. I went for every shot, no holds barred, I took my chances, a succession of drop shots and volleying. And it worked.”
“Squash also allowed me to discover so many countries, and to be a better man through the diversity of the extraordinary people I have met over the years. And thanks to Squash, I even discovered France, through so many clubs scattered all over!
Good bye to one of the greatest …