Squash finally in the Olympics

Inas Mazhar , Tuesday 17 Oct 2023

Squash is one of the five new sports that will be included in the 2028 Olympic Games in Los Angeles. That’s big news for Egypt, reports Inas Mazhar

Egypt s El Sherbini and NewZealand s Paul Coll celebrate winning the US Squash Open
Egypt s El Sherbini and NewZealand s Paul Coll celebrate winning the US Squash Open

 

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has approved five new sports for the 2028 Games set to take place in Los Angeles. Flag football, lacrosse, cricket, softball and squash have all been confirmed by the IOC to feature in the 2028 edition of the Olympics.

The decision, announced on 16 October, was ratified at the IOC congress in Pune, India.

While softball, cricket, and lacrosse return to the lineup for the first time since the 1900s, squash and flag football will be making their debut. At the Olympics in 2028, squash will consist of only two individual events, for men and women.

The introduction of squash comes after failed bids in the last four versions of the Olympics despite the sport’s growth during the last decade. The debut of the sport in the Olympics is particularly good news for Egypt which has had a chokehold on the sport worldwide for decades, whether men, women, teams, seniors and juniors. As of writing, five Egyptian men are in the top 10 while the women’s ranking has four. LA28 is therefore a huge opportunity for Egypt to add more Olympic medals to its tally.

President of the Egyptian Squash Federation Assem Khalifa reacted to the news, saying the future of the sport is now safe. “Now it’s official. We are thrilled with the news and we have a plan to maintain our supremacy and leadership in the sport worldwide until the 2028 Games,” Khalifa said.

“Finally, the dream comes true for the squash community. Glad to have been selected among the committee presenting the bid to include the sport in the Olympic Games programme,” world No 2 Nouran Gohar said.

The five sports added to the Olympic programme increases the total number of participating athletes. Los Angeles 2028 will see a rise in the number of athletes from 10,500 expected from 208 National Olympic Committees in Paris 2024 to 11,092 male and female athletes in the US city in 2028.

Egypt’s squash star Nour Al-Sherbini celebrated with the squash family the inclusion of the sport in the 2028 Olympic Games by winning her first ever US Open title on Saturday night, beating compatriot Hania Al-Hammami in three straight sets in the final.

The 27-year-old world No 1, who had lost four previous finals at the prestigious event, dominated the match from start to finish, winning 11-6, 11-6, and 11-7 in 34 minutes.

Al-Sherbini’s victory extended Egypt’s dominance of the US Open won by Egyptian players for the sixth consecutive year.

“Congratulations all, athletes and lovers of the sport. See you in the Olympic Games,” Al-Sherbini said in a congratulatory message.


* A version of this article appears in print in the 19 October, 2023 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly

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