Wednesday, May 29, 2013

To Russia with hope

HONOURED: Nicol delighted to be in St Petersburg to help get her sport into the Olympics

NICOL David will today make the biggest presentation of her life which could have ramifications not just for the sport she loves but for Malaysia's Olympic future as well.

The International Olympic Committee's executive board meets in St Petersburg, Russia to reduce the list of eight sports vying for a place in the 2020 Olympic programme with squash figuring prominently.
Nicol, the women's World No 1, leads a World Squash Federation delegation which includes men's World No 1 and British Open champion Ramy Ashour of Egypt and WSF president N. Ramachandran.

The executive board's recommendation will be forwarded to the IOC congress in Buenos Aires on Sept 8 for a vote and if squash is included, the list of sports capable of winning Malaysia medal at the Olympics Games will be expanded from badminton, diving, cycling and archery.

"I'm delighted to be here and play my part in what is an incredibly important moment for squash," said Nicol, who left Hull soon after playing the British Open final on Sunday by train and air for St Petersburg.

"For so long I have dreamed of competing in the Olympic Games -- so to be here, presenting to the IOC executive board, is a true honour.

"I just want to show how much competing in the Games would mean to me, as well as every single player on our tours. I'm also particularly proud of the strength and professionalism of our women's (WSA) tour, and of female participation in the management of our sport.

"The one big regret in my career is that I have never had the chance to compete in the Olympic Games. I'm 29 years old but I still think I could play at the very top level in 2020 and I would happily trade my seven world titles for the chance of Olympic gold.

"My own country, Malaysia, has never won gold at the Games and if I can stay healthy, and of course with the support of the IOC, perhaps I can try to make Olympic history for Malaysia in 2020."

Squash is up against wrestling, which the executive board earlier recommended to be dropped after 2016, and wushu and karate, two sports in which Malaysian athletes have previously won medals at World Championship level.

Other sports in the race are baseball-softball, sport climbing, wake boarding and roller sports.
There have been suggestions that Nicol's heavy involvement in squash's Olympic campaign has taken a toll on her own game with Sunday's defeat to England's Laura Massaro extending her run without a title this year to three tournaments.

Nicol's coach Liz Irving did little to dispel that theory when she told AFP: "You have to wonder if it is detrimental a little bit.

"She (Nicol) has put all her heart and soul into the Olympic bid process. It's very close to her heart. It's something she's really keen on. She really enjoys it and wants to do it."
Nicol David will lead a World Squash Federation delegation.

Read more: To Russia with hope - Other - New Straits Times

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