Willstrop helps lift 2020 campaign

LEEDS’S world No 1 James Willstrop yesterday played his part in trying to convince Olympics officials that squash is ready for inclusion at the 2020 Games.

The 29-year-old, who has spent 11 of the last 12 months at the top of the rankings, was in Lausanne, Switzerland, as part of the World Squash Federation’s delegation presenting its case to the International Olympic Committee’s Programme Commission.

Bafflingly, the sport was turned down for both the 2012 London Games and Rio in 2016 and is now up against six other sports – squash, climbing, karate, roller sports, baseball/softball, wakeboard and wushu – for a place in eight years’ time. The winning sport will be announced in September 2013.

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Part of the squash presentation included showing three videos, one detailing the recent innovations in the sport, such as all-glass courts and video reviews.

“Squash represents the essence of Olympic sport,” said Willstrop following the presentation. “It’s gladiatorial given that we are the only racket sport where players share the same space, and to excel requires a mix of mental strategy, skill, athleticism and fitness.

“I’m 29 so my dream to compete in the Olympic Games may never be realised, but if I can play a part in helping squash become part of the Olympic Programme, I could even retire a happy man.”