Disappointed, hurt that squash not part of Olympics: Dipika Pallikal (IANS Interview)

Mumbai, Feb 7 (IANS) With squash failing in three consecutive bids since 2005 to become part of the Olympic programme, Indian star Dipika Pallikal expressed her disappointment on Sunday and said she and other top players are hurt the sport hasn’t got deserving place in the quadrennial Games.

Squash was kept among eight sports short-listed for possible inclusion at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo but eventually failed to make be in the five sports that were recommended by the host nation in September last year.

Squash is being played in more than 185 countries and World Squash Federation president Narayana Ramachandran was left devastated after the sport was not included in the Tokyo Games.

“For every athlete, being part of Olympics is the biggest thing and it is a dream to win medals. It obviously hurts, and we are disappointed that our sport is doing well in all the spheres and still failed to win Olympic bid,” Dipika, an adidas athlete who is promoting the initiative adidas uprising, told IANS in an exclusive interview on Sunday.

“Our sport is an Olympic sport and deserves to be there. We are proud what squash has done over the years,” she said.

In September 2013, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) reinstated wrestling in the 2020, 2024 Olympics.

English squash star Nick Matthew earlier pointed out that the Professional Squash Association (PSA) should take over Olympic bid from World Squash Federation (WSF), and Dipika seconded him. She believes that with quality members present in the PSA, it can push the sport into the Olympics.

“We all agree…what PSA has done for us. We have grown a lot because of PSA and players. PSA will definitely bring big difference, and people who are there know and having played the game, understand it more,” the 24-year-old said.

The World No.17 backed out of the individual event of the ongoing South Asian Games in Shillong due a shoulder injury while playing the quarter-final in the Cleveland Classic held in Ohio, US. But she will compete in the team event.

“I backed out because I have injury on my shoulder. I needed more rest before I play the team event. I hope Joshna Chinappa (World No.13) does well in the individual event. We all know she can win gold,” the Chennai-born said.

“I wanted to play in the team as I knew without me it will be 50-50 chance. Saurav Ghosal (World No.18) is there in men’s and we have a good team. We have good chance to win four gold medals,” said Dipika, the first Indian to break into the top 10 in the WSA rankings.

Speaking about the rising status of Indian women sportspersons — starting from tennis star Sania Mirza to badminton’s Saina Nehwal and herself in squash, the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games doubles gold medal winner said, “Women’s sport in the country is growing really well. Girls should really take up sport and play. Thinking has changed in the country. Now we have role models who have done that.”

The Arjuna Award and Padma Shri award winner stressed that besides her, Joshna and Saurav, the country lacks young talent who can replace the big three in future.

“After me, Joshna, Saurav there is not so much potential that you can look up to, who will take Joshna’s or Saurabh’s place. Unfortunately, I can’t say that we have juniors who are good enough. We have to go back to drawing board to find new talent,” she bemoaned.

Dipika, who last year got married to India cricketer Dinesh Karthik, hoped the wicket-keeper batsman does well in the forthcoming Indian Premier League (IPL) after he was picked by franchise Gujarat Lions on Saturday’s auction.

“This year Dinesh will play for Gujarat. I think regardless of whatever team he plays for, he will give his best. He is passionate about cricket and loves it. We are both looking forward to it,” Dipika concluded.

(Aritra Chowdhury can be contacted at aritra.c@ians.in)

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