The moment had arrived for all 6 of us to present our case for squash to the Executive Board of the International Olympic Committee (IOC). Our team was made up of HRH Prince Imran (Patron of WSF and IOC Committee member), Mr. Ramachandran (President of WSF), Thierry Lincou (Current World No. 8 from France), Siyoli Lusaseni (South Africa No. 2) , Hana Fekede Balcha (13-year old Ethiopian squash player, based in San Diego) and myself—all spearheading for squash to give it our all in the presentation room at the IOC headquarters in Lausanne.
All of us have been in Lausanne over the weekend to prepare for this momentous occasion, some of us were winning it for their team in France during the club championships but still made it on time to join the team to make an impact when we face the IOC Executive Board.
On June 15 2009, we marched off to do our duties for squash. I, for one, was trying to compose myself before actually entering the room where 15 of the most powerful people in the World of Sport is right there in front of us and we just had share our passion for squash with them.
The whole presentation, led by Tunku Imran started off on a good high while the rest of us played our part in saying our speeches accordingly—completed by a DVD presentation (view it here). The highlight of the evening was Hana—she stood up and told her story on how squash changed her life and got a round of applause by all present in the room after she spoke. Such poise and sheer confidence that put most of us adults to shame.
On my part, I was the first to speak for our team of athletes and gave it everything I got by showing my complete and utter passion towards the game I love while stating out my points clearly to the Board members. I knew my responsibility was a big one and I didn’t want to let my squash family down.
After we finished our 20-minute presentation, we were getting ready for questions being asked but they had no questions and even gave us an added comment, saying that it was an excellent presentation! The sigh of relief and thrill we got from our side of the table was beside ourselves.
Before we left, Mr. President of the IOC did ask one final question after his concerns about not having an entourage following us professional squash players and wondered if our boyfriends or partners will be able to follow us players around during competitions. We had a bit of a giggle but Mr. Ramachandran passed the question to me and I just said ‘If I’m able to stay off the court long enough then maybe I could be able to find a boyfriend’. At least the room had a nice little laugh after that response so I was happy with that.
As we left the room, our team were jumping out of our skin with sheer joy that we gave it our ultimate best efforts and it’s now in the hands of the IOC Executive Board to give their final say. The emotions spread throughout our squash team because without the efforts of everybody, especially Scott Garrett and his team in putting together our presentation while planning Squash 2016 for us. It has been such a treat to be part of the whole experience.
I’m off to Rome now to carry on the WISPA Promo tour to continue to share this memorable experience with everyone around me.