Olympic games at Tokyo 2020
That competitive squash gets listed as one of the proposed additional disciplines for the 2020 Olympics at Tokyo are happy tidings for the fraternity.
For a sport whose growth in recent years has been phenomenal across the globe it is a fitting acknowledgement. Over 50,000 players spanning across 180 countries form a huge family of youth and veterans who are rightly fighting for the Olympic tag.
If squash finally makes it at the 129th session of the IOC in Rio in August 2016, it will be a feather in the cap of the Chennai based industrialist and sports promoter, N.Ramachandran, who is heading the World Squash Federation and the Indian Olympic Association.
Ramachandran has been promoting the cause for squash as part of the Olympics with a missionary zeal channelising all his sports contacts in this venture.
What N.Ramachandran has achieved in this unrelenting quest for an Olympic seat was not even attempted to this degree by his predecessors, which included the celebrated Pakistani champion, Jehangir Khan. “We are confident that squash would bring something special to the Program of the Olympic Games,” N.Ramachandran observed once IOC announced the short list on June 22.
Ramachandran further said: “Squash is a fine gladiatorial sport played all over the world and featuring great athleticism, competition and broadcast output.We are very grateful to the Tokyo 2020 Additional Event Program Panel for including us in the shortlist from which nominations to the IOC will be made.There is a long and strong squash tradition in Japan, with the Japanese Squash Association closing in on its fiftieth anniversary, Tokyo has hosted some of the biggest professional events of the world a little while ago and how has great juniors Satoi Watane and Ryunosuke Tsukuke, who are doing so well at the world level. The Olympics Games in 2020 would be the perfect timing for them.”
Though history records the construction of the first squash court in 1864 in England, the international unit called International Squash Rackets Federation (ISRF) came into being only in 1969 and was renamed as World Squash Federation in 1992.
There have been three Asians who have the honor of heading it. Tunku Imran of Malaysia and Jehangir Khan of Pakistan, the two major powers in the sport gave away to India’s N.Ramachandran in 2008.
Among the few professionally run and structured organizations in the world evoking the appreciation of the IOC repeatedly, the chances of squash moving into the sacred arena of Olympics are never brighter compared to the rating and popularity of the other listed sports like baseball-softball, bowling, karate, roller skating, climbing, surfing and wushu.
Confined to pockets like Pakistan, Malaysia Egypt, England, Australia and New Zealand, for a long time, squash today has accepted a touch of universality reaching out to over 180 countries.
The construction of courts, after the introduction of glass walls, has acquired an unimaginable level of sophistication almost to the point of classifying the event as elitist as golf. But close look at the stars today shows clearly the players emerge from several layers in the society.
Thanks to the initiative of Ramachandran. and a dedicated team committed administrators and coaches like Major Maniam of Malaysia and Cyrus Poncha of India, the quality and content have improved remarkably giving the country a separate image and identity in the continent.
India today is definitely a power in the sport. The the highpoint was touched when Joshna Chinnappa and Deepika Pallikal claimed the Gold Medal in doubles at the last Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. Their displays in the continental level competitions have been outstanding.
Even in the men’s section players like Saurav Ghoshal, Mahesh Mangoankar and H.P.Sandhu have enlarged the stature of the country.
This shining phase has been achieved largely due to the tremendous work put in by the coaches headed by Major Maniam at the well equipped and designed Squash Academy in Chennai.
Whatever the yardstick is taken to measuring the norms for determining an additional Olympic sport, the claims of squash cannot be easily to be ignored.