Personalities: Ross Norman - maker of a legend
During the eighties Susan Devoy's exploits dominated the headlines, but in November 1986 Ross Norman carved his name permanently into the very top echelon of New Zealand sporting history achieving a remarkable victory. In a fitting tribute at the time, then Chief Executive Robin Espie wrote:
"With a forehand drop shot on a squash court in Toulouse Ross Norman's life took on a new dimension. No longer would he be just a highly-respected, brilliant international squash player. He had now become one of a tiny elite group of people - a World Champion.
A writer of stories could not have wished for a better fairy tale. After years of struggling on the ill paid amateur circuit, a parachuting injury which almost permanently ended his career, a gritty fight back into the international rankings, a lengthy spell as the perennial second behind the legendary Jahangir Khan, then the reward - a glittering four sets victory in the World Championship Final ending Khan's five and a half year unbeaten reign.
Norman's whole life had been devoted to squash and with lasting determination he knew that Khan could be beaten. And he wanted to be the one (to conquer him). It had nearly happened in the 1985 World Championships in Cairo where Norman played above himself yet still lost and again in the 1986 British Open Final which despite a tremendous effort he sustained another defeat at the hands of the superbly equipped Pakistani.
Yet he would not allow himself to become resigned to acceptance of second place. Every hard match became a new opportunity to break Jahangir's dominance."
And, so in Toulouse on that November day Norman's grit and determination reached an historic culmination.
As well as becoming world champion Norman led his country for most of the five years he represented New Zealand from 1978, until his retirement from international play in early 1994. This included competing at seven world teams championships during that period.
Having kept himself competitive since finishing the international circuit he went on to capture the British 35 title in 1994 and as recent as this year, the World 40 Championship.
As Espie concluded in his 1986 tribute:
"The Ross Norman legend has become a further milestone in the New Zealand squash history. Congratulations to this brilliant player for whom the highest praise is only just sufficient."