Friday 29 May 2009

Squash 2016 receives worldwide support on WSD

World Squash Day in at Buckingham PalaceSquash's bid for Olympic status gained pace last Saturday 23rd May with the Squash 2016 logo being unveiled around famous London landmarks on World Squash Day.

A Routemaster London bus was hired by James Poole to tour the banner around the capital, with publicity opportunities being taken at Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, the London Eye and the Tower of London ...

Elsewhere around the world World Squash Day achieved its biggest level of participation to date.

The day began with Phil Buscke of The Datsuns performing a bungee jump live on TV from Auckland Harbour Bridge in New Zealand (see bottom).

Leading professionals lent their support to the bid by joining in hundreds of Olympic-themed events, all taking place on the same day, Saturday 23 May.

The biggest event was held in the USA at the Apawamis Club in New York, where squash legends Jonathon Power, David Palmer and John White took part in a 100-a-side 'Battle of the Border' fixture.

World number two Natalie Grainger, a World Squash Federation 2016 Ambassador, who participated in the event, said: "It was fantastic to see so many leading players supporting the event and more than 500 people came through the club's doors on the day. The event raised money for the bid, showcased squash in the most positive way and helped to raise the profile of the sport."

The World Squash Federation reported the rest of the events happening on WSD in its press release:

"From the professionals of North America, through Europe and Asia to the townships of Soweto in South Africa, thousands of children were entertained to free coaching lessons and a vivid introduction to squash on a very special day for the sport which boasts 20 million players across all five continents.

Rio, Chicago and Tokyo - three of the cities bidding to host the 2016 Olympics - held special events throughout the day. As well as open days at every squash club, enthusiasts took to the streets in numbers to be photographed waving their Squash For 2016 banners at prime locations in each city.

The 'Squash For 2016' cry rang out in all 14 States of Malaysia where more than 53 squash venues at squash centres, clubs, colleges, universities and schools - even Armed Forces centres and Police Squash Clubs - joined in this major effort.

The Japan Squash Association hosted a press conference in Tokyo attended by more than 20 members of the National media.

Other open-air events took place in India (with photographs outside the Taj Mahal and the Gateway to India) and South Africa (Table Mountain).

In Cape Town, South Africa, Villager Squash Club hosted a "Last Man Standing" tournament. It turned out that the tournament should have been titled "Last Person Standing" since a woman, Siyoli Lusaseni, was crowned the Champion, after five hours of squash and 24 games with different squash enthusiasts!

Another huge event in terms of participation was in Mumbai, where Indian ace Ritwik Bhattacharya was the star turn in a programme of State League fixtures with 128 players from Maharashtra between the ages of eight and 65.

Illustrating Squash's cultural diversity, Iran and Nepal held massive press conferences, arranged national TV coverage and invited prominent IOC guests.

Women's world No1 Nicol David, also a WSF Olympic Ambassador, hosted an open day at her training base in Amsterdam, while back home in Penang, Malaysia, she raised $10,000 towards the Olympic Bid by auctioning off her collection of clothing and rackets which she had worn and used to win major tournaments during her illustrious career.

Without doubt the most exhausted supporters of the event were at the LeƱadura Country Club at the southern Chilean city of Punta Arenas, and at Thurles Squash Club, County Tipperary, Ireland, where club players held 24-hour squash marathons.

Mexico's world No16 Samantha Teran, another Olympic Ambassador, headed the celebrations in her homeland which featured activities at many of Mexico's most important clubs, and concluding with a gathering at the Angel of Independence in the centre of the capital.

A special tournament to celebrate Squash 2016 Day in Sao Paulo, Brazil, attracted not only hosts of squash enthusiasts to the Clube Paineiras do Morumby, but also the famous Brazilian singer Daniela Mercury.

At the end of an exhausting, but hugely successful weekend, World Squash Day founder Alan Thatcher said: "The event was massively supported by national federations, and some extraordinary individuals came to the fore to organise amazing events in so many different countries.

"The energy and commitment from so many sources was almost overwhelming, and clearly illustrated the passion we all have to see Squash gain its rightful place in the Olympic Games."

World Squash Day

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