Days after making Commonwealth Games history, squash player Holly Naughton has been chosen to carry Canada’s flag at the closing ceremony.
Marching behind her: a Canadian team that produced the country’s best medal tally in 20 years.
“I keep using that word honor, but I’m not quite sure what else covers it,” said Naughton, who was born and raised in Barnsley, England, but now lives in Mississauga, Ontario. “I felt extremely honored to compete for Canada here at my first Commonwealth Games, to make history in the squash community and now the biggest of all, leading Team Canada in the closing ceremony.
“If you had told me three weeks ago that this is what my games would look like, I wouldn’t have believed you. What an experience this week has been, it will take some time to realize, but for now let’s shut these games down!”
Canada finished the Games with 92 medals, including 26 gold, surpassing the 82 medals won four years ago in Gold Coast, Australia. It was Canada’s best total since the team’s 117 medals in 2002 in Manchester, England.
Canada finished third best out of 72 nations in both total and gold medals won. Australia led with 178 medals, including 67 gold, ahead of England with 176 medals and 57 gold.
WATCH | Naughton makes Canadian squash history at the Commonwealth Games:
Fifteen-year-old swimmer Summer McIntosh was Canada’s best representative – winning two gold, three silver and one bronze medal.
Michelle Li won Canada’s final medal, a silver in badminton on Monday, hours before the closing ceremony. The 30-year-old from Toronto lost a 2-0 decision to India’s Venkata Sindhu Pusarla in the final.
He started playing squash at the age of 7
“I’m happy to bring home the silver, I’m happy to get a medal, I’m a little disappointed it’s not gold,” said Li, who won gold at the 2014 Games in Glasgow. “But there’s a lot to learn and take away today.”
WATCH | Li collects Canada’s 92nd medal in Birmingham, England:
Naughton became the first Canadian woman to make the Commonwealth medal podium in squash, winning silver. The 27-year-old started playing the sport at the age of seven.
Naughton was disappointed to lose 3-1 to England’s Georgina Kennedy in the gold medal match, but was emotional when asked about the history she has created.
“To dream of achieving these important achievements for your country and becoming the first female squash medalist is an incredible achievement,” she said. “Hopefully in four years I can make it gold.”
Naughton is a three-time Women’s Open champion. She was part of the Canadian team 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, followed closely by the wrestling team, which won 12. Fifty-nine medals were won by women or mixed teams, and 33 medals were won by men.
Several big names were missing from Canada’s Games team, including swimmer Penny Oleksiak and sprinter Andre De Grasse.
Monday’s closing ceremony drew 30,000 fans to Alexander Stadium and included an official handover to the state of Victoria, Australia, which will host the 2026 Commonwealth Games.