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Friday September 6, 2013 MYT 7:30:00 AM
Thursday September 5, 2013 MYT 6:42:14 PM
by kng zheng guan
Nicolas Mueller (right) plays against Ong Beng Hee in March this year. Mueller says getting squash into the Olympics represents hope for the sport’s revival in his country.
PETALING JAYA: If squash gets into the 2020 Olympics, Malaysia might actually have a shot at a first-ever gold medal.
That is, despite the fact that world No. 1 Nicol David will be 37 years old by that time and her reign will certainly come under threat from younger players, most notably from Egypt.
Fortunately, Malaysia already have an excellent junior programme in place and with the right grooming, the likes of Ng Eain Yow, Mohd Syafiq Kamal, Rachel Arnold or S. Sivasangari may develop into top players.
But that is not the case elsewhere and as Swiss player Nicolas Mueller explains, getting squash into the Olympics represents hope for the sport’s revival in his country.
The 24-year-old Mueller is currently the highest-ever ranked Swiss player at No. 21 in the world, having achieved a career-high ranking of No. 20 in May.
The good-natured Mueller who has regularly competed in the KL and Malaysian Opens is best remembered for giving national No. 1 Ong Beng Hee a hammering in the first round of last year’s Malaysian Open.
Unfortunately, after Mueller, there is a large void with the next Swiss player being Reiko Peter at No. 119 in the world.
“Squash used to be very big in the 80s and 90s but it faded a little,” said Mueller, who views tennis maestro Roger Federer as one of his idols.
“But it is getting bigger once again lately and it is important for squash to make the Olympics.
“We’re looking in terms of funding and recognition, and quite simply the fact that playing in the Olympics is every athlete’s dream.
“Personally, I’ve sacrificed so much these past few years playing on the Professional Squash Association (PSA) Tour - you don’t get to see your friends that much.
“It’s also a little lonely up there but we have some good upcoming juniors and hopefully some of them will join me on the tour.”
Unfortunately for passionate squash followers, Mueller who reached the semi-finals of the KL Open in March, will not compete in the CIMB Malaysia Open from Sept 10-15.
He is currently competing in the European Individual Closed Championships, where he has made the quarter-finals and will face France’s Gregory Gaultier.
Tags / Keywords:
squash, Olympics, Nicolas Mueller, 2020 Olympics
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