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Thursday March 7, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Thursday April 18, 2013 MYT 1:23:30 AM
by kng zheng guan
PETALING JAYA: A “pop-up” squash court initiative across the United Kingdom to promote the sport and create awareness has earned the thumbs up from national No. 1 Ong Beng Hee.
With the bid for the Olympic spot gaining momentum, many empty retail spaces in shopping malls are being converted into temporary squash courts, with qualified coaches giving free lessons.
That has caught many shoppers by surprise and Beng Hee, who trains in Leeds, believes it is a good move to create awareness and he believes that it could be done in Malaysia too.
“I think the situation here in England is quite similar to that in Kuala Lumpur, in the sense that squash is slowly losing popularity,” said Beng Hee.
“There aren’t enough professional leagues and the money is barely sufficient ... so, it really calls for a movement in promoting squash.
“To me, I think it’s good that there are people who are actively trying to promote squash, especially during this Olympic decision year.
“Stuff like this does create awareness and, hopefully, it’ll help in getting squash into the 2020 Games. Perhaps something like this could be done back in KL too.”
For the record, squash is fighting hard with seven other sports – wrestling, wushu, karate, baseball/softball, wakeboarding, sport climbing and roller skate – to make it to the final round of the International Olympic Council (IOC)’s selection process.
Only three sports will make it to the final round and the IOC will decide in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in September whether to drop wrestling as a core sport and accept a new sport or to stick with wrestling for the 2020 Games.
Meanwhile, the 33-year-old Beng Hee is targeting a good showing at the Kuwait PSA Cup, which begins tomorrow, in order to boost his ranking.
“I just want to win my first round match because I really need some points to go up the rankings. Also, it’s crucial that I do well to prepare for the CIMB KL Open and the Asian Championship,” said the world No. 22, who faces Egypt’s Omar Abdel Aziz in the first round.
“I’m not placing too much expectation on myself. I just want to win as many matches as possible. Besides, it would be nice to take on Mohamed El Shorbagy again ... if I can get past my first two rounds.”
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Others, Sport, Sport, Sport, squash, Ong Beng Hee, Olympics
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