The following article has been translated from its original source. The original article can be viewed on the FrancsJeux website.
Will squash enter the Olympic Games? Will it be chosen within a short range of additional sports at the Paris 2024 Games?
Frenchwoman Camille Serme, the World No. 5, accompanied a delegation of the World Squash Federation (WSF) and the Professional Squash Association (PSA) last month who presented the case for squash's inclusion in the Paris 2024 Olympic Games to the Organising Committee. Here, the 29-year-old answers questions from FrancsJeux.
FrancsJeux : What do the Olympic Games mean to a squash player of your level (World No.5), who has always been left out of the event?
Camille Serme: I have regularly rubbed shoulders with Olympic athletes at the National Institute of Sport, Expertise, and Performance (INSEP) during my course. I was hearing them talking about the Games. They mentioned it as the ultimate competition, the most important one, well above World Championships. It was hard to imagine to me, who is competing in a sport where nothing is above a World Championship. Then I ended up understanding what it could represent for an athlete to be training to be ready on D-Day.
It’s amazing. For me, the Games remain a dream which is still unreachable, but a dream that could finally come true.
FJ: Would the world’s best players attend the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris?
CS: Yes, without any doubt. We are talking about it a lot, everyone is dreaming of it and wants to be in it [the Olympics]. I have heard that some other sports’ best players aren’t interested in attending. This seems impossible in squash. If we are at the Games, the selection will actually make some players disappointed or jealous. In Egypt for example, some of the world’s best players wouldn’t qualify.
FJ: How do players like you position yourselves in squash’s bid to gain inclusion at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games?
CS: We have a very active role. We talk about this subject a lot, and we share it on social networks. But we also do help the bid by contributing to the sport’s development throughout the world. The SquashFORWARD project, launched jointly by WSF and PSA the day before the Olympic Day on the 22nd of June 2018, gives young men and females players the opportunity to have their say on the future of squash.
Victor Crouin, who was with us at our presentation to the Paris 2024 Organising Committee, is actually a member of it.
The World Federation also launched the Ambassadors programme 20 years ago. Each year, a delegation of one male player, one female player, a coach and a referee go to countries where our sport isn’t very famous or played. I took part in it last year in Ukraine and Armenia. In 20 years, this programme has had incredible results. It has enabled to see new nations appear on the squash world map. It has also contributed to our sport’s inclusiveness, which is one of the strong values of the Olympics.
FJ: What are squash’s attractive features to be included in the Olympic programme?
CS: The newness that represents the glass court equipped with the interactive wall. It is very innovative and marks a new evolution. The interactive wall enables to make the spectators participate, to make them play like on a video game. It can also be used as a big screen. It can be set up almost anywhere, including in front of venues such as the Louvre for example. What other sport can say the same?
FJ: Could squash’s inclusion in the Paris 2024 Olympic Games influence the rest of your career?
CS: Of course. When you get close to your 30s, a man is obviously questioning himself about his future. A woman probably does even more. But if squash is chosen, I would do everything I can to be competing at the Paris 2024 Games. This event could be a fantastic opportunity to finish my career.
FJ: Will France have chances to win medals?
CS: I am convinced we will. On the men’s side, Victor Crouin was a runner-up at the World Junior Championship. He would be a medal contender. In the women’s draw, the succession is already in place. France could claim for a medal in both draws.
FJ: How will attending the Paris 2024 Games as an additional sport help squash’s development, in particular towards the youth game?
CS: I have an example in mind, and it is very recent. Last week, I went with the French boxer Estelle Mossely to a secondary school in Champigny-sur-Marne near Paris to participate in a talk with students about prejudice in sport. The first question I was asked after I explained my career was: “What is squash?”. A lot of young students had heard of it, but none had seen it on TV. The media aspect of the Games would have a huge impact.
It would make children come into clubs. At the INSEP, we would have a national training centre, which would reinforce the training system.
The PSA & WSF have launched a joint new campaign – “Squash Goes Gold” – aimed at giving the global squash community the opportunity to take an active part in the sport’s future, including the bid to become part of the Paris 2024 Olympic Games programme.
Find out more about Squash Goes Gold here.