Squash triumphs ignored as Brits bask in the sporting sunshine
By ALAN THATCHER
As the UK basks in a heatwave, British sports fans are basking in the reflected glory of recent triumphs in golf, tennis, rugby union and cricket. Oh, plus a bit of unfinished cycling, where apparently drug-free British cyclists seem to be doing quite well.
When the nation finally sobers up and gets back to work after this glut of celebration, I would like to make a few pertinent points about the way we approach sport in this country.
First of all, I would like to add two significant international triumphs to the above list, both of which clearly escaped the attention of most UK media outlets.
A few weeks before Andy Murray finally put a stop to a nation’s annual angst by becoming the first home-bred men’s Wimbledon champion for 77 years, England’s Laura Massaro also won a major racket-sports trophy by beating the formidable Nicol David to become the British Open squash champion for the first time.
Following on from that, the England men’s squad became the world team squash champions.
Beating the hosts, France, in a late-night battle in Mulhouse, was a pretty amazing achievement. Backing that up by chopping the favourites, Egypt, in the final, was an equally remarkable result.
Murray’s success received pages of coverage for days on end, plus endless TV coverage and the simpering, grovelling gratitude of a nation that had scourged the unfortunate Tim Henman and plenty of his predecessors for their annual “failure” on the hallowed turf of the All-England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club.
The squash triumphs went largely unreported.
Perhaps this is why the Olympic bid is so important for squash. Because once every four years, our leading athletes will have the opportunity to win a gold medal in front of a TV audience numbering millions of viewers.
That kind of recognition has made superstars of the leading riders in cycling, a tough, lonely sport if ever there was one.
If squash becomes an Olympic sport, which it clearly deserves to, then we can only hope that things will change for the better.