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Olympic bid squashes seven games into a week

on 14/04/2019

Seven games of squash, in seven days, across seven continents.

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It’s a tall order but former world number one, Peter Nicol, and fellow Briton Tim Garner are playing the long-distance run of games to raise awareness of the sport’s bid to be included in the 2020 Olympic Games.

Stopping in Sydney on the third leg of the Seven Continent Challenge, the pair were a little tired but excited about their travels ahead.

“It’s been great to visit different countries across the world,” Garner said.

“One, to show squash is played in different areas of the globe and to see different people’s reaction to what we’ve done in each place is inspiring in itself, that we are doing a very good thing for the sport.”

The challenge is independent of the official Olympic bid by World Squash, but has the support of players, past and present.

“They think we’re mad, but they are also appreciative,” said Nicol.

“They are doing everything they can to back the bid, but they obviously can’t do something like this [challenge]. They have their personal careers to think about.”

World Squash will present their case to the International Olympic Committee at the end of May with a decision to be made in September.

While the sport put in failed bids for the 2012 and 2016 Olympics, the feeling is more optimistic for the 2020 bid.

“I rate our chances highly,” said Nicol. “When you see polls, it’s at the top or near the top.”

“I think it’s the best chance we’ve ever had”.

While Nicol and Garner admit they are “has-beens” and won’t be playing in the 2020 Olympic games, they know if squash were to be included it would drive participation.

“Kids will want to become Olympic squash champions,” said Garner, “it will help bring more kids into the game and something to strive for.”

The benefits were echoed by local squash players in Australia.

“It’s a great opportunity for a lot of young kids to train and play in a great sport and go further,” said Tim Wyers from the Elanora squash club.

“This would help every young squash player because it would add to the professionalism of the squash tour,” said Aaron Frankcomb from Willoughby squash club.

Despite a perception that squash was shrinking in participation, the Australian squash circuit continues to grow.

“With the centres closing, it appeared the sport was dying, but it’s actually quite the opposite” said Jason McLauchlan, NSW Squash board member.

“I think it’s making a comeback after a ten-year lull. There are now lots of tournaments and comps”.

“But we need councils to get on board and free up some council land,” said Mr McLauchlan who is calling on governments to help grow the sport.


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