Ghosal: Squash can gain traction at Olympics

India's top ranked men's squash player Saurav Ghosal feels that the squash community can only express its frustration at not being part of the Olympics and the withdrawal of many top-notch golf professionals from the Rio Olympics has only added to the dismal scenario surrounding squash.

Saurav Ghosal said it was frustrating to see top golfers pulling out of Rio Olympics and the likes of Rory Mcllroy saying ''it doesn't really matter''   -  Ritu Raj Konwar

India's top ranked men's squash player Saurav Ghosal feels that the squash community can only express its frustration at not being part of the Olympics and the withdrawal of many top-notch golf professionals from the Rio Olympics has only added to the dismal scenario surrounding squash.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) decided to put golf back on the Olympic roster after 112 years at the expense of squash, but owing to the zika virus threat in Brazil, top golf professionals have decided against travelling to Rio de Janeiro for South America's first Olympics.

Easily India's outstanding squash player for a decade and more; a man who has often articulated views on the sport he has played with great skill and passion, Ghosal said at a press conference at the Otter Club: ''I think, squash players in the world have made it clear that let alone winning a medal, being a part of the Olympics is a massive achievement for them and everyone holds true to that word.

"It is definitely very frustrating to see, or read articles every other day of the world number 1, 2 of the golf pulling out (of the Olympics), and then you have Rory McIlroy saying that it doesn't really matter."

Ghosal who is the No. 1 seed at the 73rd Senior National Squash Championship said: ''I mean it's frustrating for us at a personal level, it's frustrating for the sport at a broader level, but at the end of the day it's the IOC which has to kind of look at it and see what exactly it wants; if it was up to me and if was up to a lot of other people, the decision to put a sport in will be based on how important Olympics was to that sport and to its athletes.

"And for squash it is the biggest thing ever when you have someone like Nicole David, who has won 7 or 8 World Opens and saying she is going to give up every world open for that one Olympic medal. It kind of shows how much that Olympic medal means to us squash players.

"Unfortunately nothing much is going to change for 2016 Olympics (Rio) and from what we know squash is out of 2020 Olympics as well, which is terribly sad for us.

"But moving into the future, we certainly hope that the IOC may look at restructuring their decision-making process to include sports which truly wants to be there.

"Golf is an extremely thriving sport, so is Formula 1 for example, like cricket, and I don't think these sport genuinely need the Olympics to thrive as a sport on its own, whereas a sport like squash will definitely gain a lot of ground and traction in the Olympics, so we hope that it happens. It is frustrating that we are not there right now, and our reactions have to be limited to frustration, unfortunately."

Touching upon squash as such in India, Ghosal was delighted at Joshna Chinappa having moved to the top 10 and that Dipika Pallikal was a top 10 not long ago.

"I am ranked 17 now and easily this is the golden age of Indian squash. There is so much depth. There are players outside of the top 4 who have the quality to play for India."

On her part, Joshna said: "As athletes we all aspire to play for India and win medals for the country and I personally think that squash is such a deserving sport to be a part of the Olympics. As of now it is not there, but at the same time it does not make me a lesser athlete or my sport lesser than any other sport.

"We have the Commonwealth Games, we have the Asian Games, we have our World Championships, so we look forward to that. We go back to the grind.

"We work as hard as any other top athlete in the world and hopefully the IOC can see in time that squash deserves to be part of the Olympic programme. The world squash federation is doing the best it can to convince the IOC to make squash an Olympic sport.

"But at the end of the day it is not up to them. Ultimately it is the IOC that has to decide. Till they change their views on what sport should be included we can't really do much.

"In 2024, there is an outside chance, but it remains to be seen how the sport is promoted, at what level it is taken up internationally and all those factors are going to play a huge part. In the meantime we are not sweating about it. Personally for me, I might have missed my chance to play in the Olympics. At some point I do feel that we should be there and it would be great to represent India and aspire for a medal."