Grand Central Terminal in New York provided the perfect platform for the first meeting of Squash’s Olympic Athlete Ambassadors, a select group of leading players nominated by the Professional Squash Association (PSA) and Women’s International Squash Players’ Association (WISPA) as the sport's two international player bodies rallied to the call from the World Squash Federation to spearhead the sport’s bid to join the Olympic Games programme in 2016.
Both organisations have pledged their full and unwavering support to the WSF-led campaign.
“We are working very closely with both PSA and WISPA – both of whose boards and membership are totally supportive of the Olympic campaign,” said the WSF’s Olympic Bid Manager Scott Garrett.
“The purpose of appointing Athlete Ambassadors is to have real, live, participating athletes to represent the sport to the IOC and any interested parties seeking information about the sport regarding the sport's efforts to get into the Olympics," added Garrett.
Natalie Grainger, ranked four in the world and President of WISPA, echoed the WSF's commitment: "We have come together because we fully represent what Squash is all about: we are not only eloquent, and span a broad mix of cultures, but we are passionate about Squash becoming an Olympic sport,” said the new Athlete Ambassador.
"For us, and all elite players, the Olympic Games would be the absolute highlight of the Squash calendar," added Grainger.
The initial line-up of Squash’s Olympic Athlete Ambassadors is:
· Natalie Grainger (USA), the WISPA President and former world number one who is the reigning Pan American Games champion
· Lee Beachill (England), the PSA President; a former world number one and two times Commonwealth Games gold medallist and three-time British National champion
· Peter Nicol (England), a board member of the PSA and former world champion who has won four Commonwealth Games gold medals and has held the world number one ranking for 60 months
· Thierry Lincou (France), a former world champion and world number one, currently ranked seven in the world, who has been French National champion a record ten times
· Ramy Ashour (Egypt), the 21-year-old world number three and reigning world champion who became the first player to win two successive world junior men’s titles
· Samantha Teran (Mexico), a three-time winner of the Pan American championship and the first Mexican woman to earn a world top 20 ranking
New York is currently hosting one of the sport’s most high-profile events: The JP Morgan Tournament of Champions is in its ninth year at Grand Central Terminal. Staged on an all-glass court in the Vanderbilt Hall, the elite championship has become the world’s largest spectator squash event, providing an unparalleled opportunity for tens of thousands of travelling New Yorkers to watch the action as they pass through the world-famous station.
FRANK UIJLENBROEK WORLDSPORTPICS