Wednesday February 27, 2013
Squash to step up effort in push for Olympic nod
By KNG ZHENG GUAN
PETALING JAYA: There could be a new squash doubles tournament to increase awareness of the sport.
Squash is currently the favourite to get the nod for the 2020 Olympics. The International Olympic Council (IOC) will meet in Buenos Aires in September to decide which one of the seven sports – baseball/softball, roller sport, sport climbing, wakeboarding, karate, wushu and squash – earns a place in the next Games.
With world No. 1 and seven-time world champion Nicol David tirelessly pushing for squash’s inclusion, including getting the support of Swiss tennis star Roger Federer, her effort has not gone unnoticed in Malaysia.
“Nicol is a fantastic athlete, role model and ambassador for the sport and we’re really happy and proud of the effort she has put in. Getting the support of Federer was also very good publicity for the sport,” said Squash Racquets Association of Malaysia (SRAM) general manager Christopher Brodie.
“SRAM are also working with Nicol to get squash into the Olympics ... we are starting a few things in order to get people more excited about squash.
“One is to organise an invitational doubles tournament this year. It’s still in the early stages of planning but we’re hoping it’ll work out.”
While squash is not part of the Olympics, it has been a regular fixture in the Commonwealth Games since 1998.
Malaysia have also won a silver and a bronze in mixed doubles, courtesy of Nicol and men’s national No. 1 Ong Beng Hee in 2002 and 2010 Commonwealth Games respectively.
“We have also donated generously to the World Squash Federation (WSF) for the Olympics bid and sponsored a few colleges and universities to help promote the squash initiative,” said Christopher.
“I believe we’ve done quite a bit, especially since the Malaysian Open last year ... but we can always do more and we’re open to ideas.”
Meanwhile, national No. 2 Mohd Nafiizwan Adnan’s gallant challenge in the North American Open in Richmond, Virginia, came to an end after he lost 9-11, 11-6, 8-11, 1-11 to Colombia’s Miguel Angel Rodriguez in the first round.
The 26-year-old Nafiizwan, who won the first leg of the Malaysian Tour squash circuit earlier this month, had earlier come through the qualifiers by beating Egypt’s Andrew Wagih and Mexico’s Cesar Salazar in the first and second qualifying rounds respectively.
However, he had no answer to Rodriguez’s impressive speed and pace.