Published: 28/03/2017 16:00 - Updated: 23/03/2017 10:46

Gold is the colour for squash star Greg Lobban ahead of dream 2018

Written byJamie Durent

Greg Lobban is facing his first major injury after tearing his hamstring last month. Picture: Callum Mackay.
Greg Lobban has a golden year ahead, with the Commonwealth Games and a wedding in the offing. Picture: Callum Mackay.

GOLD medal, wedding on a beach, then party time.

If Carlsberg did summers, then Greg Lobban will be hoping they have got their best team working on his next year.

Lobban’s squash career has been on hold for the last six months as he rehabs a torn hamstring, but this temporary respite has not stopped him dreaming of a summer in 2018 that would be straight from a Hollywood rom-com.

Lobban is due to marry girlfriend Donna Urquhart in her native Australia, straight after the Commonwealth Games next year, which will be held on the Gold Coast. The couple both have designs on medals, starting in motion a script that would have rom-com magnet Colin Firth clamouring for a role.

"It’s a big moment in anyone’s life and it’s given me something to think about in my time off," said Lobban, who at 24 is Scotland’s number two, behind fellow Black Isler Alan Clyne.

"Being Australian, Donna is naturally laid-back. As long as everyone has a good time then we’ll both be happy. When you’re getting married on the beach, you can’t stress too much, can you?"

Some of that laid-back approach is clearly rubbing off on Lobban. He jokes he will leave a lot of planning to the "creative side of the partnership; I’ll take credit where I can."

Lobban’s friends and family will not miss out on the celebration either. A big party in Scotland is planned for Christmas, with the Games scheduled for April next year. After spending a career on tour jetting from one exotic destination to another, putting the miles in will be no great shakes and as we speak, Lobban is on his way to watch Urquhart compete at the Britsh Open in Hull.

Personal relationship aside, Urquhart can understand what Lobban is going through on a professional level. The North Kessock player had surgery on his hamstring after the Chicago Open in October last year, something which has benched his squash career for now and provided his greatest challenge.

"She knows exactly the situation I’m in and says all the right the things," said Lobban. "The only time, throughout the whole rehab, that I’ve really stressed is right at the start, when I didn’t know what was going on. When I found out, it was hard to take."

By his own admission, niggles and knocks struggle to keep Lobban down. So when he was hit with the six-month timescale for his recovery – the longest absence of his career – a new mindset would have to be adopted.

Alan Clyne and Greg Lobban became world doubles champions yesterday.
Alan Clyne and Greg Lobban became world doubles champions last August.

It would be easy to get bogged down in the negatives of his situation, dwelling on self-pity and wondering what he might be missing out on on. Instead, he has enjoyed the process of getting back to full-strength, ticking off weekly goals on his way to returning to the match action, which should only be a month away.

"I’ve had a really good team around me that’s helped me enjoy my progress," he said. "There’s been times when big events are on, particularly this time of year, where it’s tough to be on the sidelines. But I’ve had to concentrate on my goals and what I want to achieve. It’s exciting to tick those goals off."

Lobban’s Twitter feed over the last few months has been smattered with short video clips detailing the rehabilitation process. From Christmas shopping in a mobility scooter to walking for the first time without crutches, Lobban has always been able to see the lighter side of his time off.

He has been selected in the Scotland squad to compete at the European Team Championships in Helsinki at the end of next month, which will be his first time on court in six months.

Lobban was part of the team that took bronze last year, their best result since coming runner-up in 1999. Alongside his fellow World Doubles champion Clyne, Lobban will play for a Scotland side in either Pool A or B of Division One with the top two from each group advancing. Potential opponents include champions England, 2016 runners-up France and Germany, the team vanquished by the Scots in last year’s bronze medal match.

He acknowledges he will not be at his peak but is keen to give "whatever I can" to the cause. Picking up his form is crucial, with the Games a year away and the Highland pair due to defend their world championship in Manchester in August.

Attention will then switch to Australia, for more reasons than one. As a 21-year-old at Glasgow 2014, he made the last 16 of the singles and the quarter-finals of the doubles. Urquhart was a bronze medallist at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi and broke back into the world top 20 at the end of last year. As the top-ranked Australian woman, she looks a cert to be representing her country on home soil, hopefully with a double celebration in her future.

"Hopefully we’ll both be celebrating a medal," said Lobban. "It’s an exciting year ahead."

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