Squash 2016 Day was launched in spectacular style today (Friday) as rock star Phil Buscke of New Zealand band The Datsuns did a bungee jump off Auckland Harbour Bridge.
The event showed just how far squash players will go to display their support for the sport's bid for Olympic inclusion in 2016.
Guitarist Buscke, an A grade squash player, jumped not once, but twice - proudly waving a banner with the message "Squash and the Olympics, a Perfect Match".
Buscke said he has been asked to do many things by Squash New Zealand over the years, but nothing quite so dramatic as jumping off the bridge. "That was amazing, such a huge adrenaline rush - I'd do it again in a heartbeat."
The spectacular stunt is the precursor to a worldwide flurry of activity as the global squash community unites in support of the Olympic bid on Squash 2016 Day tomorrow (Saturday).
BATTLE OF THE SEXES
Squash stars all over the world are also involved in a host of Squash 2016 Day activities in a worldwide festival to promote the sport's bid for inclusion in the 2016 Olympic Games. British stars Alison Waters and Stacey Ross are leading a host of events in London, with former national champion Waters playing Mark Cowley in a 'Battle of The Sexes' exhibition match at Southgate, and world No39 Ross hosting a day of fun activities at the Lakeside Club in Wimbledon.
Ross said: "Our squash membership is thriving, but we'd still like to encourage more people to play and to join us because it is a great sport."
FINNS TAKE TO THE STREETS
Finnish ace Olli Tuominen, the current world No21, is hosting a day of Mini-Squash in the streets in Helsinki. He said: "We encouraging youngsters to simply hit a ball against a wall to give them a taste of the game. When they see how much fun it is we hope they will then want to join a squash club." Tuominen will be playing a match against national association secretary Lotta Vuorela against the wall of the Finnish Sports Federation. They have also produced a seven-minute video: http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/1533838
Indian star Ritwik Bhattacharya is involved in a huge day of action and said: "We are holding one of our State League fixtures where 128 players from Maharashtra between the ages of eight and 65 will compete. We're also holding a 30-a-side game on that day as well at two venues in Mumbai."
NEPAL INVITE OLYMPIC GUEST
The Nepal Squash Rackets Association are holding a one-day team event with hundreds of players and guests from clubs, corporate houses, foreign missions, the police and the army. Amar K Simha, President of the NSRA, said: "We plan to deliver an 'Olympic Appeal' before the tournament in an inaugural ceremony to the chief guest, who will be the Vice-President of the Nepal Olympic Committee."
RIO IN THE RUNNING
In Brazil, ten regional associations are running events this week, with a special focus on Rio de Janeiro, one of the four cities bidding to stage the 2016 Games. Advertising space has been bought in the Rio media to promote the activities, with a group of enthusiasts jogging round the city to pose for pictures at iconic locations including Copacabana Beach and the Statue of Christ The Redeemer.
FREE SQUASH IN VIENNA
Two live radio broadcasts are being planned in Vienna, where every squash club in the city is throwing open its doors to offer free lessons in a day organised by McWil Courts and the Vienna Squash Association. "They have also set up a brilliant website: www.squashday.at," said Squash 2016 Day organiser Alan Thatcher
KEEN IN KENYA
Kenya Squash have organised their national under-19 tournament at Parklands Sports Club. Canadian coach Rene Denis, assisted by Kenya-based Zambian pro Prince Mukuka and some top players, will be staging exhibition matches and offering free coaching tips to kids and adults who walk in. At the Rift Valley Sports Club, Kenya-based Zambian pro Mordecai Kabamba will be giving free coaching for youngsters.
SQUASHING ALL OVER POLAND
The Polish Squash Federation are holding events in Warsaw, Krakow and Poznan - with further information at www.pfs.com.pl
ASSI, an Italian Squash organisation boasting over 700 players and recognised by CONI, the country's Olympic sports federation, is hosting three promotional events in three different towns - Milan, Turin and Brescia. "We are participating actively for the promotion of squash and to get our fantastic sport in the Olympic Games," said former Italian National champion Luca Mastrostefano. Full details are available on www.squash.it
PHILIPPINES BACK THE BID
The Squash Rackets Association of the Philippines (SRAP) will be holding the third leg of their National Championships tomorrow to coincide with Squash 2016 Day! A spokesman said: "This time, we will make it to the Olympics!"
photos Janos Schmidt