New Commonwealth squash champ to return to Norfolk roots for anniversary event

Commonwealth Games delight for North Walsham-born James Willstrop. Picture: PA

Commonwealth Games delight for North Walsham-born James Willstrop. Picture: PA - Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

The Commonwealth's newly-minted squash champion is set to return to the Norfolk leisure centre where he first picked up a racquet.

James Willstrop, 34, today (Monday, April 9) claimed a gold medal in the sport after winning the men's singles final at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.

Born in North Walsham, Mr Willstrop will be at the town's Rossis leisure centre on Saturday, May 26, to help the club mark its 40th anniversary.

Rossis' owner, Bruce Rossi, said he was thrilled to hear of Mr Willstrop's victory.

Mr Rossi said: 'It's a fantastic achievement. I've emailed him to wish him congratulations on behalf of the club. We have been following his progress and supporting him.

'And it's fantastic that he's coming back to North Walsham.'

At the anniversary event, Mr Willstrop will play an exhibition match against Daryl Selby, another top player who was ranked the world's ninth best at men's squash in 2010.

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James's father, Malcolm Willstrop, himself a world-renowned squash coach, will also be at the celebration where he will lead workshops in the sport.

Mr Rossi said: 'Malcolm originally coached at Gresham's school before he came her and coached for several years in the early 80s.

'James was born in one of our farm cottages and I can remember him as a three-to-four year old running around.

'He first picked up a squash racquet here.'

The Willstrops later moved up to Pontefract in York, and James is now based in Harrogate.

The Commonwealth victory is third time lucky for James, who placed second in the men's final at the 2010 and 2014 games.

In Australia, he won in straight sets (11-9, 11-4, 11-6) against New Zealand's Paul Coll.

MORE: Norfolk-born James Willstrop wins gold at Commonwealth Games