There is a glaring set of names missing at the top of the list of golfers competing at the Rio Olympics. The top four, to be precise. World number one Jason Day, and his immediate followers in the rankings, Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy respectively have decided to skip the upcoming Rio Games.
It’s an absence whose tremours have been felt even in the squash world. “It’s frustrating to know that the top players in the world are pulling out, and then Rory goes and says that the Olympics don’t matter,” laments Saurav Ghosal, India’s top squash player. Squash was in the running for a spot as an event in the elite competition got the Games next month, only for golf to get the nod for the first time since the sport featured at the 1904 Games at St Louis in the United States. The steadily developing list of golfers choosing to skip the event, nonetheless, hasn’t gone down well with Ghosal, who is currently in Mumbai to compete in the 73rd squash nationals at the Otters Club. “Every squash player has made it clear that just being a part of the Olympics, let alone winning a medal, is an achievement in itself. Even Nicol David (former world number one) has said she’d give up on her eight world titles for a chance to win an Olympic gold,” Ghosal adds.
Post the Rio selection of disciplines, the likes of Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag too had voiced their opinions in favour of squash being added for the 2020 edition in Tokyo, yet that bid too remained unsuccessful. “For the future, I hope the IOC restructures their decision making a process to include a sport that actually wants to be there! Squash needs some traction to gain popularity, and being in the Olympics can help that,” says the world number 17.
Joshana Chinappa too asserts Ghosal’s sentiments, yet the 14-time national champion and world number 10 states that squash players have moved on.