Squash at the 2028 Olympics pushes Saurav Ghoshal to crossroads
With the IOC approving the inclusion of squash in the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics, will Indian legend Saurav Ghoshal stay around the circuit by then?
One such delighted athlete is a multiple-time Asian Games medallist and flag bearer of Indian squash for the past two decades, Saurav Ghoshal.
“There is no doubt that the Olympics is the biggest thing. It is a dream of the squash players across the world to represent their countries at the Olympics and win a medal,” Saurav told The Bridge on the sidelines of the Vedanta Delhi Half Marathon’s Beyond the Finish Line.
“I think squash athletes will get a chance to showcase what squash is all about,” he added.
Former junior world number one Saurav has been one of the most familiar faces of Indian squash in the world and has been the best squash player India has ever produced.
At 37, Saurav is the top-ranked Indian men’s singles player. He is ranked 18th in the world. But the question is, with more than five years to go for the 2028 Olympics, will Saurav stay around the circuit by then?
Talking about his aspirations to represent India at the Olympics, Saurav is at a crossroads. “With squash in the Olympics, I think it is a big pull but I don't know. I would lie if I said that this hasn't tempted me. Without the Olympics, I was not even thinking of playing till 2028," he said.
“I think I will have to sit with my family, team and myself to discuss as the 2028 Olympics is five years away. I plan to take it year by year and plan accordingly so that I can have the best shot at a medal in the Olympics,” he explained further.
Stellar showing at Asian Games 2023
Saurav has had a brilliant Asian Games 2023. He returned home with a gold medal in the team event and silver in the men's singles.
The silver medal in men’s singles was Saurav’s sixth individual medal at the quadrennial showpiece, and he has won a total of nine medals in team and individual events combined.
“Honestly, I don't keep a count of the medals. A lot of sacrifices and perseverance has played a role in these medals, I think that is something I am proud of,” Saurav laughed off about his long list of Asian Games medals.
Saurav lost a gruelling final match against Eain Yow of Malaysia that lasted 72 minutes, with the gold medal eluding him for the second time since the 2014 Asiad.
Asked about the missed gold medal in men’s singles, Saurav said, “I just wished there was one gold among those six individual medals, but I think I have a lot to be grateful for. It has helped Indian squash grow and I am happy about it.”
Saurav, however, played a key role in India's gold medal-winning show against Pakistan in a tense final.
“I have played a lot of team events and one thing that I have realised is that you don’t need to be the best friends but it is extremely important to respect each other and be on the same page. I think what I do on and off the court gives me the credibility to be that leader,” said Saurav about the importance of leadership in team events.
While the inclusion of squash in the Olympics will result in several youngsters taking up the sport, it is also a testament to veterans like Saurav Ghoshal's contributions, who have been flag bearers of squash for ages.