Olympic berth for squash will be a big boost: Gregory Gaultier
Men's squash world No 2 Gregory Gaultier is fervently hoping that the racquet game played inside four walls makes entry in the Summer Olympic Games of 2020 in Tokyo to give it the much-needed shot-in-the-arm.
Mumbai: Men's squash world No 2 Gregory Gaultier is fervently hoping that the racquet game played inside four walls makes entry in the Summer Olympic Games of 2020 in Tokyo to give it the much-needed shot-in-the-arm.
"Being part of Olympics will be biggest boost for our sport. We still have a chance next year when it will be decided (whether to include squash or not) for the 2020 Games. That's (Olympic berth) the only thing missing from our sport," said the four-time World Open finalist here on Tuesday.
The 32-year-old two-time British and US Open winner was here to play an exhibition game at the Cricket Club of India with India's top squash professional Saurav Ghosal, the world No 21.
"I am hoping squash makes it as an Olympic sport next year for 2020. The new IOC President (Thomas Bach) has said new sports will be introduced. It will give a big boost as the media would be interested more," said Gaultier, a former world No 1 player.
Squash was in the running to make it to the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, before the IOC members decided to retain the age-old sport of wrestling in a three-way battle for one vacant spot.
Asked whether squash is not a spectator sport which was the reason for it to be repeatedly sidelined by the IOC, Gaultier said the Professional Squash Association has taken steps to take it to a wider audience and it has worked well.
"To be fair the investment PSA did, like asking ex- players to commentate to people who don't know the sport, has improved the situation. The game has also been filmed (televised) from different angles and they have done a good job to show our sport in an improved manner over the last 2-3 years," he remarked.
Gaultier, who conceded he's not as well-known even in France barring his hometown as compared to tennis and football stars, had to make a lot of changes to his style of play to breach into the top echelons dominated by the Egyptians of late.
"Over the last few years, more and more Egyptians have come to the top. I had to adapt my game as compared to ten years ago. I had to work even harder. The game has become faster," said the Frenchman, who had played two competitive events in India in the past - at Delhi (Punj-Lloyd) and Chennai (World Team Championship).
Meanwhile, Ghosal - who won an individual silver and was part of the gold medal winning team at last year's Asian Games in Incheon - is concentrating on progressing into the quarter-finals of the November World Open, as a first step, to regain his footing.
"I have made the quarters in 2013 and lost to Nick (Matthew of England) in the last 16 in 2014. If I can get back into quarters it will be big step forward.
"It's not the easiest thing to do as I have to beat one guy in the top eight to make it or even two, depending on the draw. It's still six months away. You can't just land up there and say I am going to win it. It's a continuous process.
"Ideally, you are trying to play well in the tournaments before that and get wins which set you up. I still have a good four- five years (of squash) left in me," he added.