If there is one sport other than cricket in which India’s sportspersons have been drawing commendable results, it is squash. Both at the Chennai based national squash academy and on foreign soil, there has been plenty of action constantly ever since the present IOA President N Ramachandran elevated this once fitness activity to full time competitive sport.
Talented players like Joshna, Dipika, When the systematic coaching activities aimed at development of the sport began at the academy, Joshna had set the ball rolling in this direction becoming the youngest sportsperson in the country to become the national champion in any sport,
The seeds of such great progress were sown by the first foreign coach for an Indian sport, the well known Malaysian squash player and coach Major Maniam was recruited with former national champion turned coach Cyrus Poncha assisting him with great penchant for the job.
Soon Saurav, Joshna, returning to competitive play after a long injury lay off and Dipika achieving high world rankings. Presently, a former Egyptian player turned coach has taken over the baton from Maj Maniam.
Saurav Ghosal, Harinderpal Singh and a few more have been bringing laurels to the country winning professional as well as amateur titles like Asian and other championships.
The national academy has been imparting meticulous training to many boys and girls who have been taking to the tough sport of squash like fish to water, as it were.
The academy has also been installing the latest infrastructure whenever needed so that the progress is not hindered.
Presently the All India Squash Federation (AISF) is all set to come up with l efforts to ensure India’s good performance in the Asian Games at Jakarta and the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast (Australia), the two major international events coming up in 2018.
Finer details as regards the preparation of the teams, like camps and tournaments-participation, prior to these prestigious events are being worked out, it was announced at the General Body of the SRFI in Chennai recently.
India has also been alloted two important international events in 2018 _ the World Junior Championship in July and the Asian Junior championship in September, 2018, both in Chennai.
Effforts will be made to ensure smooth conduct of these prestigious competitions too. Preparations would also be in full swing for the Indian teams for these two events.
In 2016-17, India’s squash talents performed well in the world doubles in Manchester, where India won a bronze medal in the women’s doubles (Joshna Chinappa and Dipika Pallikal Karthik), the British Junior Open where Velavan Senthilkumar, Abhay Singh and Aditya Raghavan in that order won the gold, silver and bronze medals in the U-19 boys section.
There was also the historic triumph of Joshna in the Asian Championship held in Chennai. Dipika had finished runner up. Another highlight was the elevation of the SRFI President Mr Debendranath Sarangi to the Ethics Commission of the World Squash Federation and OCA and as Vice President of the Asian Squash Federation.
But a big dream of Indian squash that remains to be fulfilled is her stars competing in Olympic Games. Mr Ramachandran has been making persistent efforts to win recognition for squash as an Olympic sport.