Anxiety grips wrestlers, squash players ahead of Oly decision

New Delhi: India`s wrestling and squash fraternity is waiting with bated breath for the International Olympic Committee`s highly-anticipated vote on September 8 to decide on the inclusion of one of the sports to the 2020 Olympic roster.

A sense of anxiety has gripped the country`s top grapplers and racqueters ahead of IOC`s crucial meeting during its ongoing 125th Session in Buenos Aires where the world body will choose among baseball/softball, wrestling and squash for the lone available spot for the 2020 Summer Games.

Olympic medallist wrestlers, Sushil Kumar and Yogeshwar Dutt, and squash players Dipika Pallikal, Joshna Chinappa and Saurav Ghosal are excited but at the same time nervous as the full IOC membership meets to take a call on their future.

"I am hopeful that wrestling would be re-inducted into the Olympic programme. Wrestling is a popular sport and deserves a place in Olympics," two-time Olympic medallist Sushil told PTI.

London Olympics bronze-medallist and Sushil`s long-time friend Yogeshwar Dutt said wrestling has introduced new changes in the game to make it more spectator-friendly.

"Wrestling has made India a force to reckon with in the Olympic arena and we are making every possible effort to make IOC reconsider its decision. I am confident that we will again become part of the Olympic movement," said Yogeshwar.

Olympian Geeta Phogat said, "All young wrestlers would love to see their game back in Olympics."

Squash players, too, are optimistic about their inclusion in the Olympic fold and believe they would be third-time lucky after two failed attempts by the World Squash Federation (WSF) on previous occasions.

"We deserve to be in the Olympics. Our sport has evolved so much over the years and we truly are an Olympic sport. We are fighting with wrestling and baseball to get in and I feel we definitely are a step ahead of them as a sport to get into the Olympics. Give us a chance and you will see what everyone missed out for all these years in the Olympics," said Dipika.

Dipika said it would be a "dream come true" for her if squash makes the cut for the 2020 Summer Games.
"It will be a dream come true for all of us. For many athletes winning medals at the Olympics is their highest point. But for us knowing that squash is an Olympic sport after all these years of hard work will definitely be the highest point."

Chinappa, however, chose to be more realistic in her expectations.

"It's a tough battle between squash and wrestling but I really believe that squash has a great chance to get into the Olympics 2020. A lot has been done to promote the game internationally by each player as well as the administrators. I am anxious and really hoping that I hear we made it!" she said.

India's numero uno men's player, Ghosal hoped the IOC would find merit in their presentation and give them a chance to compete on the "biggest sporting stage in the world".

"I'm extremely hopeful that squash will make the cut for the 2020 Olympics. Winning a medal at the Olympics would be the biggest thing in my career and I really want a shot at it," he said.

"I think we have presented a very good bid this time around. I feel we tick all the right boxes for the sport to be included in the Games," he added.

Recently, reigning Olympic, Wimbledon and US Open champion Andy Murray had also backed squash's Olympic bid.

The IOC will decide on the inclusion of an additional sport after baseball/softball, squash and wrestling deliver short presentations to the session ahead of the vote.

The IOC's Executive Board had, in its meeting in Lausanne on February 12, dropped wrestling from the 2020 Olympics. Squash, wrestling and baseball/softball were shortlisted by the IOC Executive Board in Russia on May 29 for a final vote in Buenos Aires.


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