Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Fight to continue

OLYMPICS: Squash has to come back stronger after 2020 snub

 THE squash fraternity should build on the momentum generated by a third consecutive failed bid to get into the Olympic Games to move the sport forward.

Squash Racquets Association of Malaysia president Datuk Syed Mustaffa Syed Ali said there is a silver lining from Sunday's decision by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in Buenos Aires to dismiss squash's case in favour of wrestling.

"It had been an uphill task from the moment the IOC board decided to drop wrestling in February," said Syed Mustaffa yesterday.

"After squash made the shortlist of three sports, we could see that there was strong support to get wrestling back in.

"There is nothing squash can do for this Olympics but the one good thing that came out of it is that everybody came together to work for the sport.

"The players, officials and supporters all united for the same cause and now we must ride the momentum and make the sport more popular."

If there was one area squash fared poorly is its perceived lack of global appeal when compared to wrestling, which has a rich Olympic tradition.

This was borne out in the vote of the 95 IOC members with wrestling receiving 49 votes for an outright majority compared to 24 for baseball-softball and 22 for squash.

Women's World No 1 Nicol David said squash deserves a chance to be in the Olympics but appeared to rule out playing on until 2024, when she will be 41, for squash's next chance to get into the programme.

"Wrestling deserves its spot. They have proven themselves in the last six months, they have done the changes that were required but no doubt squash deserves a chance as well," said Nicol, 30, after training at the National Squash Centre in Bukit Jalil yesterday in preparation for the CIMB Malaysian Open which starts tomorrow.

"It will be difficult right now, to know that once we are out of the 2020 Games, the possibility of staying in the game for (another) 11 years is quite a hard thing to do.
"Squash is a tough sport, to stay in the game for that long at such a high level is very demanding."

United States Under-19 Urban Squash champion Andreina Benedith (left) and Pan American Junior champion Diego Elias of Peru speak during their sport’s presentation for inclusion in the 2020 Games at the IOC session in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on Sunday. AP pic

Read more: SPORTCHECK: Fight to continue - Other - New Straits Times

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