A Memorable Summer :
It’s been a memorable summer for Indian squash. A sport that had a very good talent reserve in the country but very less popularity, burst into the spotlight as Dipika Pallikal and Joshna Chinappa clinched a historic women’s doubles gold at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games. On the men’s side, Saurav Ghosal another of the flagbearers of the sport, had narrowly missed a medal after finishing fourth in men’s singles.
Squash has found a new lease of life in India! Continuing in the footsteps of his seniors, young Kush Kumar brought laurels as he became the first Indian to reach the Boys’ semi-finals of the World Junior Squash Championships.
At the last edition of the Asian Games in Guangzhou, India had secured three bronze medals – one each in men’s singles, men’s team and women’s team. But the renaissance of Indian squash this time has naturally given rise to much higher expectations and the athletes themselves are aware of it.
“Looking at the level of competition at Incheon, we can win all the four medals,” said Saurav Ghosal the World No. 16 and the top seed at Incheon Asian Games in men’s singles. Saurav already boasts of two bronze medals and will look to increase his tally.
World No. 12 Dipika Pallikal is a little cautious though. The Chennai squash star sounds pragmatic when she says, “We can win medals in all categories, but it’s wrong to say it’s going to be easier than the Commonwealth Games. For example there is Nicol David, who is the World No. 1 and favourite for the women’s singles.”
Things though have not been a bed of roses. Controversy surrounding the women’s singles draw threatened to dampen the upbeat mood of the squash fraternity and fans as Dipika even contemplated of pulling out. A controversial draw placed Dipika and her compatriot Joshna on the same side and put them scheduled for a second round clash. However Dipika later confirmed her commitment and talked about putting everything else behind.
India did have their taste of controversy in the squash competition in the earlier editions of the Asiad too when there were allegations of rigging in 2006 and 2010. This time though with Indian squash enjoying one of its best periods, it will be disheartening to see one of our own bow out in the second round.
Perhaps, it would have been more justified to give both Joshna and Dipika a chance to separately vie for the medals as both are currently in sizzling form. Nonetheless, for a sport that is still clamouring for Olympic inclusion, whatever glory the Indians achieve at Commonwealth Games and now the upcoming he Asian Games will be cherished for a long time.
Men: Saurav Ghosal, Mahesh Mangaonkar, Harinderpal Sandhu, Kush Kumar
Women: Dipika Pallikal, Joshna Chinappa, Anaka Alankamony, Aparajitha Balamurukan