KUALA LUMPUR,. With squash set to be dropped from the Podium programme, Chan Yiwen could rescue the sport from obscurity with her performance at the Youth Olympics Games (YOG) in Buenos Aires, Argentina from 6-18th October.
Squash has never been played in the Olympics and with the poor performances from the nations athletes at the Commonwealth (April) and Asian Games (August) this year, there’s been a call to drop the non-Olympic sports from the Podium programme, which handles the nation’s elite athletes, and focus on Olympic sports only.
In an effort to get squash in to the Olympics, 19 boys and 19 girls will play exhibition matches during the YOG in order to woo the International Olympic Council (IOC) into including squash in its future itinerary.
“I’m prepared to do whatever it takes to popularise squash and it would be a dream to see squash played at the 2024 Olympics in France,” Yiwen told Malay Mail.
“France has developed top 10 players and they’re more coming up the ranks so they may want to include it in their itinerary.
“If that happens it’ll be great for Malaysia. At the moment were not sure whether we will still be in Podium so my task is an enviable one.”
Yiwen, 18, juggles participation in squash tournaments as well as her studies. She is currently doing her A-Levels at Taylors College.
She won her first Asian Junior Championship title in Chennai, India on 29th September, adding to her National Junior and CIMB Grand Final titles earlier this year.
As squash isn’t an official event the players will play four six-minutes games to any number of points, with a 90-seconds break between each game.
There will be no referees and no official score-keeping while the front wall will be interactive — all in the hopes of making it a fun viewing experience for those watching.
“It sounds like a carnival and I can’t wait to see what cool stuff they’ve prepared,” said Yiwen.
“I’ve been told the announcer will be commentating noisily during our play which will make for an incredible atmosphere. I hope many people come and try out the sport during the introductory clinics the World Squash Federation (WSF) are having for the duration of YOG.”
Apart from squash, Malaysia will also be taking part in badminton, hockey, gymnastics, table tennis and triathlon.