New Delhi: Despite being `devastated` by the IOC decision to choose wrestling ahead of squash as an additional sport to join the 2020 Olympic programme, the Professional Squash Association (PSA) on Monday stressed that the sport has a `great future`.
"We are obviously devastated, not only for the whole sport and squash fans everywhere, but for the players, current and future that have worked so hard for this," said PSA CEO Alex Gough.
"We can be very proud of the efforts of everyone and none more so than our world number one Ramy Ashour, who has put in so much time into the bid process," he said.
It was on Sunday`s meeting of the 125th IOC Session in Buenos Aires that squash - shortlisted with wrestling and baseball/softball as one of three sports being considered for addition to the 2020 Olympic programme, and the only one never to have been in the Games before - lost out to wrestling.
Wrestling, one of the rare sports which progressed from ancient to modern Olympics, won the poll in the first round of voting with 49 of the 95 votes cast. The joint bid of baseball/softball was second with 24 votes and squash received 22.
The result saw wrestling assured of appearing at both the 2020 - which is to be hosted by Tokyo - and the 2024 Summer Olympics.
Gough said the presentation in Buenos Aires yesterday was something they can all be proud of and shows the great future that squash has, with or without the Olympics.
"Our sport has much to offer the Games - let`s hope that this is not the end of our Olympic journey."
World Squash Federation (WSF) President N Ramachandran, who led the presentation at the IOC Session, admitted that he was `heart-broken` at the decision.
"The decision is heart-breaking for the millions of squash players around the world, particularly given the 10-year journey we have been on to join the Olympic Games sports programme," said Ramachandran.
"As the only new Olympic sport on IOC`s shortlist, we believed squash offered something for the future and I still hope that our inclusion may still be possible. The feedback we have received from many IOC members for our campaign and our presentation has been very positive and I am encouraged by the vote we received. We have much to offer the Olympic movement and I am hopeful that it is not the end of our Olympic journey," he added.
Among numerous reactions from PSA members across the world, England`s former world number one Nick Matthew perhaps summed up the feelings: "Despite this disappointment, the world of squash can be massively proud of its efforts over these past four years."
India`s highest ranked squash player Saurav Ghosal too expressed his disappointment that their sport couldn`t get on board.
"We had an impressive presentation but sadly the decision was not in our hands. We will keep on trying to get into the Olympic fold and become a part of the movement. A lot of people involved with the sport had put in a great deal of effort to get us to this stage," Ghosal said.
World No.1 female player, Malaysia`s Nicol David said, "I think this is the closest that the sport has ever been to the Olympics. This is a good position we are in to spearhead our tours and also squash in general."
This was the third consecutive bid by squash to join the Games and journey to get here had been a long one - 10 years in fact - having failed to get the required two-thirds majority in 2005 in Singapore and 2009 in Denmark.