Squash federation presents bid for inclusion in Olympics

June 16th, 2009 - 6:30 pm ICT by IANS  

Chennai, June 16 (IANS) The World Squash Federation, led by president N. Ramachandran of India, took a crucial step in its bid for inclusion in the Olympic Games from 2016 by making a presentation to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) executive board in Lausanne, Switzerland.
The six-member team, including 13-year-old Hanna Fekede Balcha, besides IOC member and WSF patron Tunku Imran, prince of Malaysia, Ramachandran, women’s world No.1 Nicol David of Malaysia, former world champion and Frenchman Thierry Lincou and the up-and-coming South African Siyoli Lusaseni, met the executive board for the presentation Monday.

Imran introduced the team, and the executive board was then shown a spectacular video, highlighting a number of key areas that make squash a worthy candidate for inclusion, according to a WSF press release.

Among these were the progression the sport has made to be easier and more enjoyable to watch on television; the pledge that the top athletes would compete; the range of nationalities that would be represented (current rankings show there would be 30 countries involved); and the low cost and accessibility of the sport around the world.

Ramachandran went on to explain how the WSF has improved the infrastructure of the game, and the way the professional organisations work to ensure that squash is totally ready to be easily incorporated into the Olympics.

He also talked about the ease and low cost addition of squash as well as how the sport can easily be hosted in any of the four 2016 bid cities.

Ramachandran said: “I am very proud of the presentation we have put together and what we have achieved in getting this far. I believe that we have showed squash to its full potential. I know that we have much to offer the Olympic community, and I hope that the IOC will see the merits of our inclusion.”

The players each outlined why, as athletes, the Olympics are so important to them personally, and the many benefits which Squash can bring to people’s lives, and to the Olympics.

Hanna is an Ethiopian, but her family moved to San Diego, US, when she was nine years old to build a new life for itself. Hanna was accepted to the Surf City Squash program in San Diego which enables students to play alongside their studies.

“I was really nervous but enjoyed doing the presentation today. It has been amazing to travel to Switzerland and meet my hero, Nicol. I feel like squash has given me so many opportunities that I wouldn’t have had otherwise that when I was asked to take part in this presentation I jumped at the chance. I would be so happy to compete at the Olympic Games,” Hanna said.

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