Kolkata: India’s top squash player and talisman, Saurav Ghosal has set his sights on breaking into the top 10 of the men’s singles rankings. Saurav had reached a career-high ranking of No. 15 in December 2013 , so this is one target that is on the horizon.
The 2014 Asian Games gold medallist recently conveyed his plans on the sidelines of an exhibition match between Saurav and the World No. 2 Gregory Gaultier at the 222-year-old Calcutta Racket Club.
Saurav targets individual CWG medal in 2018
The India No. 1 who has now slipped to a ranking of 21 also revealed that he dreams of winning an individual Commonwealth Games medal for India in 2018.
“I am now ranked #21 in the world. I would like to get back into top 20 and push towards top 10. 2014 was a big year for me and 2018 is another big year coming up. Hope I can win an individual Commonwealth Games medal in 2018.”
2020 Olympics miss a travesty
Saurav Ghosal also expressed disappointment on squash missing out on achieving the status of an Olympic sport. The top Indian squash player reasoned that squash deserved an opportunity to be a part of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Considering that we have multiple Olympic medals for sports like rhythmic gymnastics and synchronized swimming, it is a well founded logic that bears consideration.
“It was a massive disappointment and a travesty that squash could not make it to 2020 Olympics. We definitely deserve to showcase our sport.”
However, all is not lost for squash. The sport can still harbour hopes of making it to the quadrennial event. The new IOC president Thomas Bach is planning to expand the 2020 Olympics programme and this situation has presented the racquet sport a second chance.
Saurav explained that the sport was given a feedback from the IOC. There is a focus now on attempts to dress up the sport a bit more and improve its overall quality. The World No. 21 remains optimistic and one will know IOC’s final decision by middle of next year. Hopefully squash makes it to the list!
Future of Indian squash is bright
Talking about the Kolkata exhibition, which is the first of its kind in India, Saurav Ghosal said that he had been thinking about such an event for a long time and he hopes that this will inspire youngsters to take up squash.
“The idea is to basically get someone of Greg’s stature so that the juniors can have a front-up view of what it takes to be a champion. Hope this is going to make lots of youngsters take up the sport.”
With India claiming the women’s doubles Commonwealth Games gold and the Asian Games men’s team gold last year, squash is on an upward curve in India. Saurav Ghosal believes the future of squash in the country is looking bright at the moment and the next 4-5 years will see a surge in squash talent.
“The future of squash here is a lot better than before. Many juniors are coming in to train. In the next 4-5 years there will be a gravitational pull that will bring in many more youngsters.”
The Kolkata lad also saw an improvement in the Bengal’s squash landscape.
“The scene here is much better than when I started out. With me and Ramit Tandon (coming back from the US in June this year), it is going to be exciting.”
Egyptian squash remains a role model for any country
There’s no better country to look at other than Egypt when it comes to squash. With five of the current top 10 being Egyptians, the African nation has established itself as a dominant force in the sport. Former British Open winner Gregory Gaultier pointed out that it is no wonder Egypt is doing so well.
“Squash is big in Egypt, right after football. Even one of their presidents was a fan of squash. Now there are even squash schools in Egypt,” said the 32-year-old Frenchman.
More PSA events needed in India
Saurav also stressed on the need to have more PSA events regularly in India which will give the Indian players a chance to play at home. In 2014, there were five PSA tournaments for the first time. Ghosal hoped that the Squash Rackets Federation of India (SRFI) is able to find sponsors that will enable India to host World Series events.