The 25-year-old athlete Tinne Gilis has recently won the Pro Tour’s Squash On Fire Open in Washington, DC. It is her biggest professional title so far, and her fifth since she has been on the tour. But that only applies to her career as a professional. In the summer of 2022, Tinne Gilis won the title of The World Games Champion in Birmingham, USA. There was no prize money for this success, but instead the gold of the Games and the appreciation of her home country Belgium, which she felt honoured to represent. She is our Athlete of March 2023!
In Washington, the Belgian reached the final for the second time during the Professional Squash Association's World Tour this season. In September, she had lost the final against her older sister Nele at the French Open in Paris. In Washington nearly six months later, she beat the 15-year-old Egyptian Amina Orfi convincingly in three sets (11:9, 11:5, 11:3). This secured her share of the prize money of 50,000 dollars.
Tinne Gilis fulfilled a wish with her success: "Winning a bronze tournament was really something I wanted to achieve this season. I didn't know when that was going to happen, because I was struggling with some injuries and stuff. I am so happy that I managed to reset and keep on training, because it has been mentally hard. I made sure I could play this tournament because I love this tournament, and everyone around here, so it makes me extra happy to win my first bronze tournament here in Washington, D.C.," she said after winning the final.
She added: "I still can't believe it to be honest. I played this tournament with no expectations, I just wanted to play well and enjoy my squash again! I think that's what I did today!"
This success in the USA was a kind of deja vu experience for Tinne Gilis. As in Birmingham, she celebrated together with Frenchman Victor Crouin, who won the men's final in Washington. Croiun had also won gold at The World Games 2022.
Tinne Gilis won the title without losing a single set. For the top seed from Belgium, the gold medal also meant the fulfilment of a wish. "I am really looking forward to The World Games in China, and I will be going all-out to win a medal and will do my best to make my country feel proud. Representing Belgium is one of my favourite things to do."
The World Games is a multi-sport event staged every four years by the International World Games Association, organised with the support of the International Olympic Committee. The World Games 2022 was held in Birmingham, Alabama, USA, 7-17 July 2022. 3,600 athletes from 34 sports and 100 countries took part in the Games. The 12th edition of The World Games will be held in Chengdu, CHN in 2025.