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Squash: WSF delegation hopeful IOC will take on squash as new sport

The WSF delegation in Buenos Aires (left to right): Andrew Shelley, WSF Chief Executive; Sarah Fitz-Gerald, former Women's World Champion; Diego Elias, Pan American Junior Champion; Nagasamy Ramachandran, WSF President; Andreina Benedith, USA U-19 Urban Squash Champion; and World No. 1 Ramy Ashour.

The WSF delegation in Buenos Aires (left to right): Andrew Shelley, WSF Chief Executive; Sarah Fitz-Gerald, former Women’s World Champion; Diego Elias, Pan American Junior Champion; Narayana Ramachandran, WSF President; Andreina Benedith, USA U-19 Urban Squash Champion; and World No. 1 Ramy Ashour.

September 7, 2013: The World Squash Federation (WSF) delegation that will present its case to join the 2020 Olympic Games at the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Session on Sunday is increasingly hopeful its bid will succeed.

 

Squash is one of three sports, along with wrestling and baseball-softball, 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 Narayana Ramachandran, includes Men’s World Champion Ramy Ashour from Egypt; former Women’s World Champion Sarah Fitz-Gerald from Australia; Pan American Junior Champion Diego Elias from Peru; Andreina Benedith, the USA’s U-19 Urban Squash Champion from New York; and Andrew Shelley, Chief Executive of the WSF.

 

World No. 1 Ashour 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 also 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, so to play a part in our final presentation to IOC members is a great honour.

 

“I look forward to telling them that squash reflects the essence of Olympic Sport – it’s gladiatorial, physically demanding and mentally challenging. I’m only 25, but I know our sport has been on a journey and I really do hope this journey leads me to the Olympics in 2020, where I can make my country proud and win gold for Egypt.”

 

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. Now, as Chairman of the WSF Athletes’ Commission, I hope 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 programme.

 

“Our sport has been on a journey of innovation in recent years, especially in the way it’s broadcast and presented. State-of-the-art all-glass courts, referee video review, lighting and music have radically enhanced the spectator experience. Our sport also embraces gender parity and many of our key events have equality in prize money for men and women.”

 

Elias said: “Competing in the Olympic Games is something I think about every single day. I’ll be 23 in 2020 and I really do believe I have the ability to win Peru’s first Olympic gold since 1948 and make my country proud. I’m an example of many new countries that would fight for medals if squash is given the chance.”

 

Benedith added: “Squash has given me an amazing opportunity in life. As a young girl growing up in the Bronx, squash gave me the skills and opportunities I needed to change my life and be the best I can be on and off the court. Squash is really growing in the US and we now have over one million players.

 

“It has been an amazing year for me, having won the Under-19 US Urban National Squash Championships, and I can honestly say that being part of squash’s Olympic presentation team is incredible. I really do hope the IOC gives squash a chance.”

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