Squash ready for final presentation at 125th IOC Session
CHAD WISE / Sports Features Communications
(SFC) The World Squash Federation announced its delegation to attend the 125th International Olympic Committee Session in Buenos Aires, where it will hope to get Squash on the Olympic Programme in 2020.
World Squash Federation President N Ramachandran will lead the delegation and will be joined by Egyptian Men’s World Champion Ramy Ashour, Australian Women’s World Champion Sara Fitz-Gerald, Peruvian Pan American Junior Champion Diego Elias, American U-19 Urban Squash Champion Andreina Benedith and World Squash Federation Chief Executive Andrew Shelley.
“Squash’s journey to join the Olympic Games has been a long one,” Ramachandran said. “Our current bid - the third consecutive by Squash - began in earnest two years ago and over this time we have been through a robust process and travelled the world presenting our case. So in a very real sense Sunday’s presentation will be the culmination of a 10 year campaign by Squash to join the Olympic Games.
“Squash can offer something exciting and fresh to the Olympic experience, and we are proud to be the only new Olympic sport on the shortlist. Squash would be low cost and easy to integrate into the Games with just 64 athletes. We could share a venue if required, or be located to showcase an iconic backdrop – and we have a track record of doing exactly this, such as in front of the Pyramids.
“We are a genuinely global sport, played in 185 countries by many millions across the world. We are growing in regions such as South America, central Europe, China, and India as well as in the more traditional Squash areas including the United States. The order books of court manufacturers are the fullest they have ever been. During our 10-year campaign to join the Games we have never stopped listening, learning and innovating.
“On Sunday we hope to demonstrate to the IOC that Squash is a sport that represents the future, not the past.”
“The biggest regret in my playing career was that I never had the chance to play at the Olympic Games, so being able to play a part in Squash’s final presentation to the IOC is a huge honour,” Fitz-Gerald said. “Now, as Chairman of the WSF Athlete’s Commission I hope that I can play a role in persuading the IOC membership that the next generation of squash players will be a fantastic addition to the Olympic Games Programme.
“Squash can honestly say that we are now more than ready. Our sport has been on a journey of innovation in recent years, especially in the way it is broadcast and presented. State of the art all-class courts, referee video review, lighting and music have radically enhanced the spectacular experience. Our sport also embraces gender parity and many of our key events have equality in prize money for men and women. These are themes that we will certainly bring to life in our presentation.”
“In many ways I feel like I’m preparing for the biggest match of my career,” Ashour said. “So much is at stake, not just for me, but for young players right across the world such as Diego and Andreina. I was part of our team that presented to the IOC Executive Board in May, and so to be given the chance to play a part in our final presentation to IOC members is a great honour.
“I look forward to telling them that Squash reflects the essence of Olympic Sport – it’s gladiatorial, physically demanding and mentally challenging. We are already played in every major multi-sport Games and the respected Forbes Magazine has described us as the ‘world’s healthiest sport,’ and of course we have a 100% doping-free record.
“I’m only 25, but I know that our sport has been on a journey, and I really do hope and pray that this journey leads me to the Olympic Games in 2020, where I can make my country proud and win Gold for Egypt.”
“It is a huge honour for me to be here in Buenos Aires as part of the Squash presentation team,” Elisa said. “Competing in the Olympic Games is something that I think about every single day. I will be 23 in 2020 and I really do believe that I have the ability to win Peru’s first Olympic gold medal since 1948 and make my country proud. I am an example of the many new countries that would fight for medals if Squash is given the chance to join the Games.”
“Squash has given me an amazing opportunity in life,” Benedith said. “As a young girl growing up in the Bronx, Squash gave me the skills and opportunities I needed to change my life and be the best I can be on and off the court.
“Squash is really growing in the United States and we have over one million players. It’s been an amazing year for me having won the Under 19 US Urban National Squash Championships and I can honestly say that being part of the Squash Olympic presentation team is incredible. I really do hope the IOC gives Squash a chance.”
The International Olympic Committee will choose either Squash, Wrestling or Baseball/Softball for inclusion on the 2020 Olympic Summer Games Programme this Sunday, 8 September, at the 125th IOC Session in Buenos Aires.
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