In mid 2007, Madeline Perry had a near death experience when she was mugged as she walked out of a restaurant in Milan. The then World no. 8 was left with a severe brain injury and a broken temporal bone in her skull. She was told that getting her health back was not going to be an easy task and that she might never regain the concentration levels required for top-level sport. While many may have wallowed in self-pity and chosen to take the easy way out, Madeline worked relentlessly to regain form and concentration. Within less than three months from the assault, she was back on the squash circuit winning her national title in Dublin and by January 2008, she had returned to the international circuit.
Working her way up into the top 10 again was no walk in the park, but Madeline proved that she is a fighter and has what it takes to be part of the crème de la crème in the squash circuit. Today, Madeline’s efforts are bearing fruit as she stands firmly at World No. 6 in the WISPA rankings and with 7 WISPA tour titles under her belt including the prestigious Australian Open which she recently won in August 2010.
STARGAZER : Congratulations on your recent win at the Australian Open. How do you feel with this achievement in your career? Is it comparable to any other win?
MADELINE :It was the biggest title of my career so it was a huge win for me, also to come through such a tough draw was very satisfying and gave me a lot of confidence.
STARGAZER : What are your squash aspirations for the rest of the year?
MADELINE : It’s pretty hectic right now so I’m probably not thinking much further than the World Open and Commonwealth Games. The Commonwealth Games is a big goal for me so I’m very excited about that. Later in the year, it would be great to move into the top 5 and also to win other big events.
STARGAZER : What are your insights on the development of women’s squash in Ireland?
MADELINE : I have lived in England for the past 10 years so I’m a little bit out of touch with the sport in Ireland. I certainly feel like the game needs a big development push in Ireland and I would love to help with that.
STARGAZER : We understand that you enjoy watercolour painting during your free time. Is painting a potential career path for you upon retirement from squash?
MADELINE : I have hardly done any painting in the past few years but it is definitely a passion. I feel like I need a lot of time so maybe when I retire and I’m not so active, I would love to do some more. As for my future career path, I’m still a little unsure of that!
STARGAZER : Which was the hardest city to get around language-wise over the years on the squash circuit?
MADELINE : Without a doubt—Shanghai. We were actually lost in translation, we needed things to be written in Chinese to give the taxi drivers or we couldn’t go anywhere. We had no idea what was happening a lot of the time. It was good fun though!
STARGAZER : Your blue & white outfit seems to be your all-time favourite. Is blue your lucky colour?
MADELINE : I’m not sure if I have any lucky outfits! They are only lucky until I lose! I definitely like blue but I love pink too so it’s always difficult to decide what to wear. I enjoy choosing my playing outfits though.
FUN FACT: A leprechaun is a type of fairy in Irish folklore, usually taking the form of an old man, clad in a red or green coat, who enjoys partaking in mischief. The Leprechauns spend all their time busily making shoes, and store away all their coins in a hidden pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. If ever captured by a human, the Leprechaun has the magical power to grant three wishes in exchange for their release. Try getting Madeline to grant you some!