Commonwealth Games: James Willstrop wins gold, Sarah-Jane Perry takes silver

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Sarah-Jane Perry loses squash final to New Zealand’s Joelle King
2018 Commonwealth Games
Venue: Gold Coast, Australia Dates: 4-15 April
Coverage: Watch live on BBC TV and Red Button with extra streams on Connected TVs, BBC Sport website and app; listen on Radio 5 live; follow text updates online. Times and channels

England’s James Willstrop won the biggest singles title of his career by beating New Zealand’s Paul Coll to take Commonwealth Games gold.

The 34-year-old, who lost in the Commonwealth singles final in both 2010 and 2014, won 11-9 11-4 11-6.

It was England’s second squash medal of the Games after Sarah-Jane Perry took silver in the women’s event, in which Wales’ Tesni Evans secured bronze.

Commonwealth Games: James Willstrop wins gold, Sarah-Jane Perry takes silver
Commonwealth Games: James Willstrop wins gold, Sarah-Jane Perry takes silver

Perry lost against New Zealand’s Joelle King 16-14 11-8 6-11 11-13 11-8.

From podium to the theatre

While Perry, 27, is likely to get more opportunities to top the podium, Willstrop has said this is his last Commonwealth Games.

“It just clicked,” Willstrop said. “It was the stuff you dream of. Most brilliant performances in my career, everything works and clicks. That’s happened today. That is one of the best performances.

“There was no expectation. Everything in the lead-up has to go well and it just did. No illnesses for once, it went smoothly, so I knew it was there.”

Perhaps slightly fatigued from his 106-minute semi-final win over Wales’ Joel Makin, Coll never looked at ease in the final.

After closing out the first set, Willstrop took control, staying in points by doggedly chasing down the ball and wearing his opponent down in lengthy exchanges.

Victory arrived in just 42 minutes – his shortest match since the opening round.

Willstrop, a theatre enthusiast, will be acting in a play in Harrogate in the aftermath of the Games, and has been mastering his lines in recent weeks.

“I find it does work a little bit,” he added. “Maybe it exercises some part of the brain, I don’t know.”

‘Perry may live with ‘nightmares’

Sarah-Jane Perry
Sarah-Jane Perry beat Wales’ Tesni Evans in the semi-finals

Perry, by contrast, rarely had control of her final.

She admitted afterwards she tried to be too aggressive from defensive positions early in the match, allowing King to take a two-game lead.

Perry, who saved match point at 2-1 down, also ran head-first into the side wall when attempting to keep a point alive.

“I gave everything. I even face-planted into the wall,” Perry told BBC Sport.

“I came with the goal of a medal. I’d have loved that before the Games but am absolutely gutted right now.”

King – ranked four places higher than her opponent – raced into a 4-0 lead in the final game but Perry used two walls on successive shots to fight back to 8-8.

But, after contact from King in the middle of the court, Perry stopped expecting a let call which did not come, a moment she later said she may have “a few nightmares” about.

King pushed on to close out the final game.

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