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Commonwealth Games gold medallist James Willstrop returns to Norfolk club where it all began

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

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

PA Archive/PA Images

Commonwealth Games gold medallist James Willstrop is returning to where it all started as Rossis in North Walsham celebrates 40 years of squash.

The squash pro won the biggest singles title of his career, beating New Zealand’s Paul Coll 11-9, 11-4, 11-6 to take the gold medal in Australia in what he said will be his last Commonwealth Games.

The 34-year-old said: “It just clicked, it was the stuff you dream of.”

James and his father, Malcolm, who coached him as a youngster and was a squash coach at Rossis in the 1980s, will return on Saturday, May 26 to help them celebrate 40 years of squash with a special squash exhibition and dinner.

James and Daryl Selby, England No 3, will warm up on court with Matthew Bolt and Tom Smith (No 1 and 2 at Rossis) prior to their exhibition match to be played on both courts in two halves.

While, on the other court, Malcolm Willstrop will be running a coaching session with Tom Smith, Rossis squash coach, Craig Aldred, who coaches at Barnham Broom, and Henry Geaves, an up-and-coming Rossis squash player.

Later that evening, Rossis will host a two-course hog roast dinner with speeches, live music and memories of 40 years of squash at Rossis.

Entry will be by ticket only and they can be obtained from Rossis on 01692 404966. Arrival for the exhibition match will be 3pm sharp and for dinner at 6pm.

This one-off event forms part of Rossis 40th anniversary year which will see a diverse programme of events and some surprises too, created to showcase the best of Rossis over the years.

Owner Bruce Rossi said “Squash has been synonymous with Rossis for many years and to welcome world-class players and coaches back to where it all started is significant.”

The Rossi family have a rich Norfolk heritage which can be traced back at least six generations.

They farm in North Walsham and the family also have strong Norwich connections with four silversmiths in the city for several generations, before they changed their profession to accountancy.

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