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Saturday September 7, 2013 MYT 7:30:00 AM
Friday September 6, 2013 MYT 7:13:01 PM
by kng zheng guan
Nicol David might be too old to compete in the 2020 Olympics, if squash is included, but she would be happy to have had a hand in getting the sport into the Olympics.
SUNDAY is the D-Day for squash – and there are a few niggling thoughts on my mind.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) will decide Sunday which of the three sports – the other two being wrestling and baseball/softball – to be included in the 2020 Olympics.
Squash, for so long a major contender to get into the 2020 Olympics, saw its influence wane a little earlier this year when wrestling was dropped as an Olympic core sport by the IOC executive board.
This resulted in wrestling regaining support from many quarters and in May it made the final shortlist alongside squash and baseball/softball.
In Malaysia, squash is relatively huge – but still behind football, badminton and hockey in terms of popularity – thanks to world No. 1 Nicol David, who has achieved so much over the years.
Winning seven world titles is no mean feat, not when each victory becomes so much harder as the women’s competition intensifies.
Still, squash is not as popular compared to other racquet sports like tennis and badminton.
This could be due to the lack of attractive prize money and funds. No wonder we often hear stories of professional squash players struggling to make ends meet.
As a squash writer I obviously want the sport to be included in the 2020 Olympics.
So, when wrestling joined the fray and started gaining popular support from places like the United States and Russia, I was worried.
Thankfully, though, the momentum seems to have swung squash’s way a little – especially in terms of global support on social media.
But what really bothers me is that of the current total of 126,000 followers on the Squash 2020 Facebook page, only slightly more than 20% are Malaysians.
This is quite sad, actually, as we have a world No. 1 in our midst. What’s more, Nicol is also an excellent ambassador for the sport.
Obviously many Malaysians are thinking: “Nicol’s already 30 ... so she’ll be 37 in 2020. Even if squash gets into the Olympics, there’s no guarantee we’ll win a gold medal. So, why bother?”
That’s precisely the wrong mindset to have.
Yes, Nicol will struggle to win an Olympic gold at the age of 37, but the reason she’s fighting hard to get squash into the Olympics is NOT for herself.
As much as she wants to win an Olympic gold, Nicol just wants to see squash get what it deserves – the highest recognition in the world of sports.
And it doesn’t get any higher than the Olympics, does it?
If squash does get into the 2020 Olympics, it will be the culmination of a three-year effort.
The sport has gone through so many changes in a bid to become more audience-friendly – both to those watching it live and on television.
And, slowly but surely, it is succeeding.
As far as squash’s future in Malaysia is concerned, the sport needs to be in the Olympics.
Malaysia has several talented and promising juniors – Ng Eain Yow and Mohd Syafiq Kamal are just two names that spring to the mind as they are the ones who will be the face of Malaysian squash in seven years’ time.
These players, however, need the right motivation and be pushed in the right direction so that they can step up to the plate and become top professional players.
Getting squash into the Olympics will do just that.
So, let’s come together and hope that on Sept 8 (Sept 9 morning in Malaysia), the IOC will make the right decision – and include squash in the Games.
As for the rest of you out there, please do your bit in supporting squash’s Olympic bid by following the Squash 2020 Facebook page.
It’s not that hard, is it?
Tags / Keywords:
squash, Olympics, 2020 Olympics, IOC, Nicol David, International Olympic Committee
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