‘India has lot more positives to offer as hosts’

October 2nd, 2010 - 5:07 pm ICT by IANS  

Roger Federer By Pragya Tiwari
New Delhi, Oct 2 (IANS) India holds many happy memories for top squash player James Willstrop, and the Englishman insists he never doubted New Delhi’s potential to host the Oct 3-14 Commonwealth Games and feels only justified on his arrival here.

Coached by his father Malcolm, Willstrop was 19 when he won the world junior individual championship in Chennai and five years later on the same courts he played a key role in beating arch-rivals Australia to enable England clinch the World Team Championship title.

Now 27 and World No.6, the six feet four-and-half inches tall Willstrop, donning a red and white team jersey and a pair of flip-flops at the Games Village, tries to be unassuming as he speaks about his chances in the competition.

“I have to been to India quite a few times. I won my junior title and then the World Team Championship. So, yeah, I have performed well in India, but the competition will be tough. England players are among the top seeds, so that’s a big positive. I will definitely be doing my best here,” Willstrop, who won a silver at the 2006 Melbourne Games, told IANS.

“I have always enjoyed my visits to India. I have been received with warmth here. I was not in the least bothered about what the media were showing about the Games here nor did I ever think about pulling out.”

“I know how things here are. I was sure India will have a lot more positives to offer as I can now see. The Village is pretty much the same we had in Melbourne and there has been no problem,” he said.

Seeded second at the 2010 Games, Willstrop, who trains at Pontefract Squash Club, has India’s top player Saurav Ghosal as his sparring partner.

“I know Saurav very well. We have been together for some time. He is a very good player and will be a tough contender. We were in touch when the whole controversies over the Games were going on but whatever minor doubts I had, he cleared them.”

On security concerns expressed by some participating nations in the lead-up to the Games, he said: “Terrorism is a problem everywhere, isn’t it? We faced it in London. So, we can’t pick one area and say it’s not safe.”

“The security here is very alert and reassuring. I am focused on my game,” said Willstrop, who counts Jansher Khan, Peter Nicol and tennis champion Roger Federer among his idols.

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