Thursday, April 18, 2024

Dick Pound talks up Olympic hopes

Squash has all the ingredients to be an Olympic sport says top Canadian sports official Dick Pound
By Squash Mad Reporter

The Mark Sachvie Squash Centre at White Oaks Resort
The Mark Sachvie Squash Centre at White Oaks Resort

Former IOC vice president Dick Pound, the Honorary Chair of the 2014 Women’s World Team Squash Championship, is upbeat about squash’s chances of becoming an Olympic sport, saying that squash “has all the elements” needed to become a part of the IOC programme..

dickpoundPound is the author of several books and publications, and is one of Canada’s most-recognized figures in international sport. In his distinguished career, the native of St. Catharines, Ontario was a two-time vice-president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), president of the Canadian Olympic Committee, Chancellor of McGill University and founding chairman of the World Anti-Doping Agency.

In an interview with Niagara This Week, Pound said: “I am very honored to accept this position in such an important event.

“I love the game of squash and played it competitively for a quarter of a century. My particular hope is for squash to become part of the Olympic Games – it has all of the elements of skill, fitness, excitement and fair play that make it a natural addition to the Olympic programme.”

Pound has been named to Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world for his relentless efforts to rid sport of performance-enhancing drugs. His career has touched nearly all aspects of the Olympic Games and the Olympic Movement, and he has been a force for change and growth in many of the roles he has assumed over the years.

A star-studded line-up representing 20 nations – including all of the top 10 contenders – will compete in next month’s SHOP.CA Women’s WSF World Team Squash Championship in Canada, according to the finalised squads confirmed this week by the World Squash Federation.

The defending champions, Egypt, have put together a formidable line-up which includes four players ranked within the top 11. Going into the tournament, the Egyptians are likely the team to beat, and will be looking to retain the title in the 19th staging of the biennial championship at White Oaks Conference Resort & Spa in Niagara-on-the-Lake which runs from Dec. 1 – 6.

Being led by the world’s No. 3 ranked player, Raneem El Welily, the Egyptian squad also includes top-ranked players Nour El Sherbini, Nour El Tayeb and experienced campaigner Omneya Abdel Kawy.

“There is considerable depth at this year’s SHOP.CA Women’s World Team Squash Championship, with the top 10 players in the world participating,” said Squash Canada executive director and championship director Danny Da Costa. “Egypt, England and Malaysia are all strong contenders for the title – however we feel our Canadian girls can challenge for a top eight placing at this year’s event.”

niccvolleyNicol David (right), who this month celebrated an unprecedented 100th successive month at the top of the world rankings, leads Malaysia for the seventh successive time since 2002 – hoping to improve on her country’s bronze medal finish for the past four times and win the only major title which has so far eluded her.

David, unbeaten in the event in her last 27 matches over the past ten years, will be supported by world No. 7-ranked Low Wee Wern, alongside Delia Arnold and Zulhijjah Binti Azan.

Host nation Canada will be led by the country’s two-time champion Samantha Cornett, the world No. 30 ranked player, who will be making her third appearance in the championship.

The country will be hoping that home advantage will take the team into the last eight for the first time since 2000. At just 23-years old, the Ottawa-based youngster Cornett will be partnered by nationals runner-up Danielle Letourneau, Toronto-based Nikki Todd and 20-year-old Hollie Naughton.

“Hosting the SHOP.CA Women’s World Team Squash Championship gives Canada an unique opportunity to showcase the best female players in the world and, by doing so, we feel it presents an opportunity to grow the game of squash in Canada,” said Da Costa. “One of our main focuses of this year’s event was to promote women in sport and women in leadership positions, and by hosting this event we can create an opportunity to have more girls playing, coaching and officiating squash across all levels of our development pathway.”

Canada’s neighbours to the south will also field a powerful squad, led by Amanda Sobhy, the 21-year-old Harvard University student whose career-high world No. 10 ranking cements her status as the country’s highest-ranked home-grown player of all-time. The US team will be rounded out by Amanda’s younger sister Sabrina Sobhy, alongside 21-year-old Olivia Blatchford and South Africa-raised former world No. 1, Natalie Grainger.

England, who took home the silver during the last competition, are six-time former champions who have only once in the 35-year history of the championships finished outside the top two. The Brits will be led by world champion Laura Massaro, the world No. 2. With world No. 5 Alison Waters at second string, the squad will also feature two event Sarah-Jane Perry and Emma Beddoes, ranked No. 17 & 18, respectively, in the world.

Guatemala will be making their maiden appearance in the championship, the full line-up of which also includes Australia, Austria, Canada, China, Colombia, Egypt, England, France, Germany, Hong Kong China, India, Ireland, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, South Africa, Spain, USA and Wales.

Source: Niagara This Week  



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