Exclusive: World number-one David dreams of securing squash’s place in 2020 Games

Article by David Gold, re-published from insidethegames.biz

June 30 – The world’s top women’s squash player, Malaysian Nicol David, has spoken of her dream that the sport can be included in the Olympic programme in 2020 – affording her the chance to claim her country’s first ever gold medal at the Games.

Nicol David, unsurpassed.

David has won a record six World Open titles in the last seven years as well as eight Asian Championship crowns, also unsurpassed.

Although she would be 36 in 2020, David told insidethegames she would do all she could to compete in the Games if squash was part of the programme.

“We look forward to bringing squash into the Olympics,” she said.

“Malaysia has never had a gold medal in any sport.

“Hopefully I will go one day.

“It is a dream [to win gold] – it is a long way away but I will make a point if it gets into the Olympics to stay in there and really train hard, hopefully represent Malaysia and get the medal.”

David certainly does not lack the passion for the squash cause, and after the sport’s rejection for inclusion in Rio 2016 presented a paper to the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

She told insidethegames that “it means everything” to get the sport included in the Olympics.

“It is a dream to be part of the Games and it is the pinnacle of every sport – not just for me but all who are part of the squash community and want it to be in the Games.

“I just hope and pray that it will get there because it has so much potential.”

Malaysia has only ever won four Olympic medals, all in badminton, and a furniture company is even offering a cash reward of 1 million Malaysian ringgits (£200,000/$315,000/€249,000) to any player who finally brings back a gold medal from London this summer.

Squash, which has never been an Olympic sport, is hoping to make it third time lucky having missed out in the race to be a part of London 2012 and Rio 2016.

David was also involved with the bid team for Rio 2016, and she insists that the changes made to the sport since then has put it in a good position to be successful this time around.

Among those changes are high-definition television coverage, the use of glass courts around the world and changes to the scoring system, which David pointed out, “get more spectators involved”.

“They feel like they are in the game,” she added.

“We have learned a lot from the previous bids and put a lot of things together.

“Squash is pretty much one of the best sports around at the moment, it is a complete game, an all-round sport.”

The 28-year-old got into squash as a result of the Commonwealth Games Kuala Lumpur hosted in 1998, which meant that the sport received the necessary funding to enable her to improve her game and compete internationally.

She has recently been trying to help raise squash’s profile in Africa, specifically in Namibia (pictured above) and Malawi, where as an ambassador of the World Squash Federation, helping run exhibition clinics and a course promoting the sport in the region.

“This was my first opportunity in Africa and [it was great] to see the enthusiasm of people there,” David said.

“They are also keen to play squash and feel that they are part of something special.”

She added that the Namibian Government has promised to fund the sport, and with private sector investment in Malawi, David hopes the game in Africa can take off.

David was speaking to insidethegames in London, where she helped film the squash campaign video for 2020.

There will also be filming taking place in Egypt, one of the main countries in which squash has grown recently, to showcase its impact.

The video is being put together for an IOC Programme Commission presentation in December.

Squash, which is played in 185 countries, is competing with softball, baseball, climbing, karate, roller skating, wakeboarding and wushu for inclusion in 2020.

The IOC will visit the Hong Kong Open in November during the evaluation process, and will also travel to Cali in Colombia for next year’s World Games, of which squash is a part.

Recommendations will be made next May on which sport to include in 2020, with a final decision made later in the year.

Contact the writer of this story at david.gold@insidethegames.biz