Joelle King battled her way to the squash singles gold medal today. Her compatriot, Paul Coll, did not have such good news – he was unable to make it a New Zealand double, losing the men’s singles final to James Willstrop.
King, 29, seeded No 2 in the tournament, was pushed right to the brink before beating Englishwoman Sarah-Jane Perry 16-14, 11-8, 6-11, 11-13, 11-8.
The New Zealander held a matchpoint in the fourth game, but Perry denied her.
The 78-minute match was a feisty, see-sawing affair. Perry seemed rattled at times, complaining about the slippery floor, the standard of the officiating and her opponent’s pushing.
However, she played some brilliant strokes and kept King fully stretched throughout.
King was rewarded for her composure, court coverage and good length.
In Delhi in 2010 King reached the Commonwealth Games singles quarter-finals. At Glasgow in 2014 she took the bronze medal.
It hasn’t been the easiest tournament for King, who had to work hard to beat Malaysian great Nicol David in four games in the semi-finals.
Afterwards she noted that though New Zealand had had some great women’s squash players, none had managed to win the Commonwealth Games singles. “This feels pretty good. It’s a privilege to have that honour of being first.”
She said that before the tournament there were about 12 players in the draw capable of winning the tournament.
“I just took it match by match, trying hard not to get ahead of myself.”
King said that part of the reason the match was so see-sawing was that it was a final.
“That’s the nature of finals. You are trying so hard, you don’t want to let the other player get a break on you. You’re really out there giving it everything. We each came back whenever the other looked like getting too far ahead.
“Sarah-Jane played really well today. That was a reallyr tough match and she never went away at any stage.”
A day after his come-from-behind semi-final win, Coll found himself outplayed by Willstrop in the gold medal match.
The Englishman, twice previously a Games singles finalist but never a winner, made no mistake today and won 11-9, 11-4, 11-6 in 47 minutes, which is quick for a Coll match.
Coll retrieved gamely but Willstrop dictated play and never let the New Zealander into the game.
“Credit to James," Coll said. "He played very well tonight. He’s a former No.1 and credit to him,"I’m very happy to have made the final, but I couldn’t get into my game…and he wouldn’t let me.
"It’s disappointing. I had more to give today. I wasn’t my best match. Still I'm going to try and enjoy my silver I got for New Zealand."
King and Coll both play two matches, a doubles and a mixed, tomorrow. King teams with Amanda Landers-Murphy in the doubles, then with Coll in the mixed. Coll plays with Campbell Grayson in the doubles.
Gold Coast 2018 Delhi 2010 Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games Joelle King Paul Coll Campbell Grayson Amanda Landers-Murphy Squash