Barbara Wall

1965 Collegian

1965 Collegian Barbara Wall, right

My mum, Enid, and dad, George, built the first public squash courts in Western Australia. That's how I was introduced to the game.

I started competing when I was 17 with the State Squash Team, going on to be WA State Champion in 1969 to 1971 and again in 1979.

At the end of 1976, I packed my bags and went to England to compete. I thought it would be a great way to travel.

The following year I made the final of the British Open, the first unseeded player to do so. I was up against Heather McKay, who had been undefeated for 16 years.

Sadly, over the next months I put on a lot of weight and the following year I waddled into the quarterfinals and got beaten.

Later, South African squash professional Alan Colburn came upon me about to eat a mouthful of pork pie and he said, "I am disappointed in you. I don't think you have ever really been as fit as you could be. You have gone through life relying on your natural ability and now you are going to go home never knowing how good you could have been."

His words pressed a button in me. I put the pork pie down and back in Australia I contacted Olympic runner Shirley Strickland who took me under her wing and trained me.

I lost three stone and when I went back to England in 1979 I won the British Open Squash Title. It was very special, a real thrill.

  • I was named WA Sports Star of the Year in 1979 and inducted into the Australian Squash Hall of Fame. In the '80s I was involved in the Life Be In It squash programme and I was honoured to be inducted into the WA Sporting Hall of Fame.
  • In 2012 I was inducted into the Western Australian Inaugural Squash Hall of Fame, a great honour.

On MLC: I loved my time at MLC and was so happy during my time there. I loved the sporting activities and have very fond memories of our sports mistress, Miss Jegust, who was so supportive of me and my sporting dreams.