YORKTON - It was announced earlier this year the Los Angles Olympic organizing committee had recommended to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) that squash, along with four other sports, be included in the 2028 Olympic sports program.
On Oct.16, the IOC has ratified this recommendation: for the first time, squash will be an Olympic sport.
Nikole Todd, a national calibre squash player sees the announcement as a huge step for the sport.
“Just to get into the Olympics, that’s amazing,” she told Yorkton This Week, in an interview shortly after her return from the 2023 Pan Am Games.
Todd said while the sport is only guaranteed one year in the Olympics based on the LA announcement, it will have multiple positive effects.
It starts with giving new profile to the sport.
“There will be more eyes on it,” said Todd.
While an international level athlete Todd said when she tells some people she plays squash they aren’t aware of the sport, certainly not in the way they are with a cousin racquet sport such as tennis.
Having squash in the LA Olympics will showcase the sport to a broader audience, said Todd.
Todd said seeing the game in the Olympics will encourage more funding for the sport, and bring more players to the game, keeping more involved because the sport will have gained profile.
Since the late 1980s and the introduction of multi-view courts, squash has been fighting for a place in the Olympic Games, noted squash.ca. “Mr. (Dick) Pound, an inductee into the Canadian Squash Hall of Fame, has always been a strong advocate for the integration of squash into the Olympic sports program. Using his position within the IOC, Pound worked diligently for decades to have squash added to the Olympic sports programme: “It was a long process. We have already come close to achieving this inclusion, but no sport likes to be removed from the program and there is a practical limit to the number of sports and athletes that can be entered at the Games. It takes a lot of calm, hard work and leadership to get the attention of the IOC Program Commission. The sport developed in bits and pieces over the years, and with improved technology and the increasing ease of travel, squash was able to grow and become a truly international sport. It now has everything the IOC wants from a sport and it is a great opportunity for both squash and the IOC.
“Present at the Commonwealth Games and the Pan American Games, as well as other major multi-sport events and world squash events, squash naturally takes the next step by reaching the Olympic Games. After narrowly missing out on inclusion in the Olympic sports program several times over the past decade, successful inclusion in the 2028 Olympic Games in Los Angeles provides excitement and anticipation.”
On the website Jamie Nicholls, CEO of Squash Canada was quoted as saying “Squash Canada is delighted to have our sport included in the Los Angeles 2028 Olympic program. It is a testament to the resilience and determination of our national and international communities to take finally our rightful place on the most important and most significant sporting scene there is.”
As for Todd and the rest of the Canadian squash contingent at the Pan-Am games, they brought home a selection of medals, albeit none of them golden.
The Canadian team would earn two silver, and two bronze medals in Santiago, Chile.
“It was amazing,” said Todd of the experience, adding it was one she had not expected.
Todd explained she had basically retired from competitive play, when an injury to another player opened the door for a return.
“It’s kind of hard to put into words,” she said, adding after the COVID shutdown she had decided to focus on a career.
When the call came, Todd plunged back in, not so far removed from her playing days.
“I didn’t find it that hard to switch back on,” she said.
As for the play in Chile, Todd said as a group they might have achieved more.
“I think we could have done a little better,” she said.
In Women’s Doubles action Todd teamed with Hollie Naughton departing the competition in the quarter finals to Colombia.
In the Women’s Team Canada won its semi final match against Colombia and advanced to the gold medal match against the USA dropping the final.
So does the trip to Chile encourage Todd to stay active with an eye to LA?
Todd said women squash players tend to peak in their early 30s, she is now 33, so would be 38 for LA.
But she is staying in squash as a coach.
“Who knows maybe one day I’ll be at the Olympics coaching,” she said.