CAIRO (AFP) – Nicol David believes her dream of competing at an Olympic Games may have come closer after the changes which were passed at last week’s extraordinary meeting of the International Olympic Committee in Monte Carlo.
If the highest profile squash player of all time were able to retire after competing at the 2020 Games it would be an ideal conclusion to a uniquely successful career.
That now seems very possible according to the World Squash Federation website, which claims that “the outcome of the IOC Session in Monaco continues to raise the prospect of a place for squash at the Olympics in Tokyo.”
However the 31-year-old Malaysian legend has tempered the new mood of optimism with a warning that squash will best advance the revived Olympic hopes by taking its progress step by step.
“If creating a cap for the amount of athletes makes it open for new sports then it’s a great step,” David said of the change which has removed the cap on the number of Olympic sports allowed in Tokyo.
“I can see that it will be beneficial for the Games for other sports to be involved.” Then she added: “Of course we mustn’t get ahead of ourselves. We have to see what the IOC plans to do. This is a new set-up.
“It’s exciting times to make these changes, and a positive step forward for future Olympics. “I am sure that there is an opportunity which squash will have this time – but we will have to wait and see what they (the IOC) want to do.”
David is well aware that everything depends on whether some sports already in the Olympics can be encouraged to reduce the numbers of their athletes, or to forego an event.
“It’s difficult for the IOC to make that step as well,” David warned. “Which sport would have to reduce. Some sports have been there (the Olympic programme) for a long time.
“It is tough for a sport to reduce its events. It takes a bit of time and effort, and a desire from IOC. But we will hope they will look for that.”
David, who achieved a record 100 consecutive months as world number one last month, believes she may have what it takes still to be an Olympic challenger at the age of 36 if the chance were to come about at Tokyo in 2020.
Having also played a major role in the presentation of squash’s bid to the IOC in Buenos Aires last year, she feels that helping squash earn a place in the Olympics is her greatest remaining ambition.
Even after her bid for an eighth world title carried her to the quarter-finals – she has a rest day today – the intensity of David’s emotions about the Olympics remained too powerful to hide.
“I will only be content once I see squash and the Olympics next to each other on a piece of paper, being signed!” she asserted. “And then I will be satisfied.
“And that still has to take its time. It all depends – it comes back to the IOC.”