‘She was a pioneer in the world of sport and especially in squash’ says Fontaine
By HOWARD HARDING – Squash Mad International Correspondent
The World Squash Federation is mourning the death of former WSF President Susie Simcock. She was 82.
It was in October 1996 that the New Zealander was elected the WSF’s first, and only, woman President – succeeding HRH Prince Tunku Imran of Malaysia, under whom she had served as Vice-President for the previous seven years. On completing her maximum term of office in October 2002, Mrs Simcock was appointed Emeritus President.
She represented New Zealand Universities in athletics and hockey and reached a national ranking of eight at squash.
An Executive Member of the New Zealand Olympic Committee, Simcock was a Governor of the New Zealand Sports Foundation and became the first woman ever to be elected as a Member of the Council of the General Assembly of International Sports Federations (GAISF).
Simcock’s work and contribution for women in sport was recognised by the International Olympic Committee in 2010 when she received the IOC Women in Sport Award (pictured above with then IOC President Jacques Rogge).
“Susie was a pioneer in the world of sport and especially in squash,” said WSF President Jacques Fontaine. “As the first female president of the WSF she paved the way towards establishing squash as one of the main racket sports in the world.
“It is desperately sad to hear of her passing – but the contribution she made to our sport will live on for ever.”
In a message to his successor on hearing the news of her diagnosis of liver cancer, Tunku Imran wrote: “I enjoyed every moment of my time in WSF – and you were so much to do with it. I was so delighted when you came on board because of your wise counsel and of course friendship.
“The reforms we made were huge when we look back. The only regret is that we failed the Olympic bid. I was delighted when you became the first woman President.”
Ted Wallbutton, CEO of WSF throughout her ‘reign’ as President added: “Susie was a very special person. In the 12 years she served as Vice-President and President of the WSF from 1989-2002 she combined a charming, open and warm personality with an ability to see the bigger picture and drive through vital change.
“Susie was equally at home in a local squash club, among the professional players or in the high-powered environment of the Olympic world, making friends wherever she went and skilfully advancing the agenda to promote and advance the sport she loved.
“After retiring from the Presidency, she continued to spearhead the drive to make Squash an Olympic sport,” Wallbutton continued.
“The strong relationship she had forged with key Olympic members, particularly President Jacques Rogge, was instrumental in the decision of the 117th IOC Session to vote for squash to be included in the London Olympic Games of 2012. The decision was subsequently overturned on a technicality, but remains the highpoint of the Olympic campaign.
“As with everyone who worked closely with her, I valued Susie’s friendship and loyalty and her amazing ability to see the best in everyone and to bring out the best in everyone.”
Squash legend Jahangir Khan, the former world No.1 who succeeded Simcock as WSF President, said: “I always admired Susie. She was always very helpful to me and had boundless energy – in fact I often found it difficult to keep up with her! I have met many women in the world of international sport and she was totally different. She had a wonderful personality and lots of people learnt a lot from her.
“It was Susie who persuaded me to join the WSF board and I am delighted that she did. She was so passionate for all sport, and particularly squash. The respect she had around the world from other international federations was clear to see.”
The world of squash extends its deepest condolences to Susie Simcock’s family, including husband Jon, daughter Robyn and sons Jeremy and Andrew.
Pictures courtesy of WSF