Commonwealth Games is a golden boost for squash: Next stop the Olympics
Squash has been a massive winner at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.
Huge crowds, outstanding TV coverage and breathtaking action on the glass court have made it a Golden Games for squash. More than 2,000 fans attended every day of the singles competition and today’s doubles schedule is believed to be close to a sell-out at the Scotstoun Sports Campus.
A peak television audience of more than one million viewers tuned in to BBC1 to watch Nick Matthew and Nicol David claim gold on Monday, and even more significantly, Team England’s four medal winners, Matthew, James Willstrop, Laura Massaro and Peter Barker, cosied up on the sofa together for a 20-minute interview with host Gary Lineker live on prime-time television.
Naturally, all four players promoted the sport’s bid for a place in the Olympic Games. Lineker, who was genuinely sympathetic to the cause, expressed astonishment that such a physically demanding and hugely entertaining sport was not on the IOC rosta.
In addition, most UK national newspapers cleared whole pages to cover that one hour 40-minute battle between Matthew and Willstrop in the men’s final. Many newspaper websites also carried excellent picture galleries with some outstanding images from the blue glass court.
One can only hope that visiting IOC officials will have been impressed by the delivery and presentation of an outstanding squash competition here in Glasgow and find a route to include squash in the 2020 Olympic Games in Japan.
All of the players have enjoyed the atmosphere created by noisy, passionate crowds and have responded with squash of a supremely high standard.
The new format for the doubles competition, with a wider court and a lower, 13-inch tin, has also made a huge impact, with shorter matches full of fast and furious squash.
Another major plus factor has been the attendance of hundreds of spectators who have never been to a squash tournament before.
The success of Glasgow 2014 is confirming a vital ingredient in the presentation of high-class events, namely, that squash has spectator appeal beyond the traditional diehard fan-base.
The appearance of Games mascot Clyde at the Scotstoun venue was a big hit with fans as England’s Sarah Kippax and Scotland’s Kevin Moran led dozens of school-children in a squash warm-up routine at courtside.
Glasgow has risen to the challenge with a friendly welcome in all parts of town. And squash has responded with the most positive display of all that is good in the game. A huge well done to all concerned.
Pictures by STEV LINE (www.squashpics.com)