England’s World No.5 Laura Massaro has said that she is focusing on participating at the 2018 Commonwealth Games and also opened up on her retirement plans to Women’s online sports magazine Sportsister.
The 33-year-old from Preston, who topped the World Rankings for four months last year, has firmly established herself as one of the greatest English players of all time and in 2014 became the first Englishwoman to hold both the World Championship and British Open titles.
Speaking to Sportsister’s Fiona Tomas, the three-time Commonwealth Games silver-medalist insisted that she has no plans to retire soon, but did admit that she is hoping to continue serving the sport that she has dedicated her life to after her playing career.
“At my age, it’s really important to keep things fresh, and as long as I’m physically good and motivated to improve my squash, then I’ll keep playing,” said Massaro.
“The plan is to go until the Commonwealth Games [held on the Gold Coast, Australia] and then reassess after that. At the moment it’s definitely something that’s on my radar.
“When I’m finished I’d love to get more involved in running events and to try and bring some of these amazing iconic locations that we have all over the world to England.
“The trouble is in England, it’s the weather. Rain coming down on the glass would be like playing in a conservatory. Unless you made it a glass box because generally, they don’t have a roof.
Massaro with the World Championship crown in 2014
“End of the mall at Buckingham Palace would be nice, or Horse Guards Parade, somewhere like that, or maybe more indoor locations – like the National History Museum. Or I’d love to put one in the Trafford Centre.”
“I just have this vision of creating a squash event combined with OctoberFest – £100 a ticket and you can drink all you want and watch a bit of squash. But I need someone to buy in.”
While Massaro has her eyes on competing in next year’s Commonwealth Games, she admits that, should squash finally gain inclusion to the Olympic Games in 2024, she will not be participating.
The sport has agonisingly missed out on Olympic inclusion on three occasions – with Baseball/softball, sport climbing, surfing, karate and skateboarding all being chosen ahead of squash for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo – and Massaro says that squash’s exclusion is a cause of frustration.
“If you’ve got badminton, table tennis, tennis – racket sports that have been around just as long and are just as hard to play, if not harder, squash deserves its place,” she said.
“Everything that has been asked has been done, but at the end of the day, it’s down to whether IOC members who vote whether you get in or out.
“It isn’t ‘If you hit this many participation figures, you can get in’, or ‘Do this, you can get in’ – it just seems very unmeasurable to me.”
Massaro celebrates during the 2016 PSA Dubai World Series Finals
Despite the sport’s lack of recognition as an Olympic sport, the PSA World Tour continues to thrive, with four of the seven World Series tournaments – including the Windy City Open which begins this week – offering equal prize money across both the Men’s and Women’s events.
December will see the 2017 PSA Men’s and Women’s World Championships held side-by-side in Manchester, with an equal prize fund up for grabs for the first time in history as the decision to merge the Professional Squash Association (PSA) and Women’s Squash Association (WSA) back in 2015 continues to pay dividends.
Massaro is keen to see the sport continue to address gender equality, saying: “The men’s game is always seen to be physically harder, we play the same amount of games, on the same court, and regardless of whether the rallies go on longer for the men or not, relatively we’re working just as hard.
“I’ve never really got too bogged down with it because as a player, you have to trust the people around you, your governing bodies and associations to try and fight that battle for you.”
Massaro’s next appearance on the PSA World Tour will come at the Windy City Open, which is held at the University Club of Chicago between February 23 – March 1.
The 2014 winner is pitted against Egypt’s Mariam Metwally in round one, and is seeded in the same side of the draw as the likes of World No.3 Raneem El Welily, World No.4 Nouran Gohar and United States No.1 Amanda Sobhy.
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