CAIRO – Squash stronghold Egypt celebrated the sport’s inclusion into the programme for the 2028 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, raising hopes of winning some gold medals but the head of the country’s federation warned against excessive optimism.
Squash, cricket, flag football, lacrosse and baseball-softball are five sports added to the programme after being approved by the International Olympic Committee as it looks to tap into new global audiences.
“I’m super happy and excited that we finally made it to the Olympics,” Egypt’s squash star Nour el-Sherbini, ranked first in the world women’s ranking, said in a video posted on Facebook.
“I have been always dreaming to play in the Olympics games and have finally made it. Congratulations to everyone and all the squash players and fans. See you in the Olympics,” El-Sherbini added.
For his part, Egypt’s star Mostafa Assal, ranked third in the world in the men’s competition, wrote on Facebook: “Farewell to the phrase squash is not an Olympic game.
“Thanks, God, for squash’s entry into the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics,” Assal underlined.
Egypt dominates squash, with five players currently in the top ten in the men’s world rankings.
Egypt also holds the top three positions in the women’s rankings in addition to a fourth player among the top ten.
The country’s squash federation celebrated the decision to include the sport in the Olympics on its website.
But Assem Khalifa, president of the federation, said the task will not be easy.
“The decision makes squash an Olympic game in the 2028 edition only, and after that the existence of the game will be evaluated again,” he told local media according to Reuters.
“Therefore, the game must participate successfully, and its existence be proven. Then we wait for the new decision after the 2028 Olympics.
“We hope to achieve more than one gold medal, but this decision will certainly increase other countries’ interest in the game,” the top official added.
“We would be wrong if we felt that we were guaranteed a gold medal at the Olympics. We must be extremely prepared to achieve the maximum possible.”
El-Sherbini has been crowned the 2023 US Open on Sunday for the first time in her illustrious career after overcoming Hania el-Hammamy 3-0.
El-Sherbini had been unsuccessful on four previous occasions in the US Open final, but she made it fifth time lucky this time as she produced a stellar performance to take the title against her fellow Egyptian.
El-Sherbini and El-Hammamy met in the last Platinum level final at the Qatar Classic in September, and it was the latter who was victorious on that occasion in a five-game thriller.
Reigning World Champion El-Sherbini got the perfect start to the first game as she went 5-1 up, but El-Hammamy, who had been given a conduct warning in the opening exchanges, began to step up the court to take the ball in early.
The deficit was cut down to two points when El-Hammamy was 7-5 down, but El-Sherbini proved to be too strong to draw first blood.
El-Sherbini was too clinical once again for El-Hammamy, with the World No.1 not allowing the World No.3 to find her rhythm and forcing a number of errors to take the second 11-6.
The ‘Warrior Princess’ had risen to the occasion extremely well, as El-Sherbini was faultless in the third with El-Hammamy struggling to find an answer to what was being thrown at her.
El-Hammamy saved one of four championship balls, but El-Sherbini converted at the second time of asking to seal her maiden US Open crown.
The World Squash Federation (WSF), US Squash and the Professional Squash Association (PSA) welcome the decision.
WSF, US Squash and PSA extend their gratitude to the Organising Committee of the LA28 Olympic Games and the IOC for recognising the value that squash brings to the Olympic Games.
Squash’s inclusion in the LA28 Olympic Games will help the IOC and LA28 advance its mission to “deliver an unparalleled experience” for athletes, fans, and the entire sports community.
WSF President Zena Wooldridge said: “On behalf of the entire global squash community, I would like to express my immense delight at squash’s inclusion in the LA28 Olympic Games.
“Squash is an amazingly dynamic, diverse and demanding sport that is perfectly suited for the Olympic Games. Everyone involved in our sport is elated to be LA28 bound and we look forward to being part of an unparalleled Olympic Games experience.”