Buenos Aires, Sep 7 IANS | 2 years ago

The World Squash Federation (WSF) delegation, headed by Chennai-based N. Ramachandran, will present its case to join the 2020 Olympic Games at the International Olympic Committee (IOC) session here Sunday.

Squash is one of three sports being considered by the IOC for inclusion in the 2020 Games, but the only one never to have featured in the Games.

The WSF delegation, led by its President Ramachandran, includes men's World champion Ramy Ashourfrom Egypt, former women's World champion Sarah Fitz-Gerald from Australia, Pan American Junior champion Diego Elias from Peru, Andreina Benedith, the US U-19 Urban Squash champion from New York and Andrew Shelley, WSF Chief Executive.

Ramachandran said: "Squash's journey to join the Olympic Games has been a long one. Our current bid, the third consecutive, 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.

"The racquet-sport 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," he added.

"We are a genuinely global sport, played in 185 countries by 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."

Sarah Fitz-Gerald, five-time winner of the World Open, said: "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.

"Now, as chairman of the WSF Athletes' 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 Program."

Ramy Ashour, the World No.1, said: "In many ways I feel like I'm preparing for the biggest match of my career. 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," said Ashour.

Diego Elias said: "It is a huge honour for me to be here in Buenos Aires as part of the Squash presentation team. 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."

(Posted on 07-09-2013)