The sport of squash is claiming a world record for the biggest sports match in history.
More than 800 clubs representing 40,000 players registered to take part in the World Squash Day Challenge – Team Squash versus Team 2020 - which demonstrated global support for the sport’s 2020 Olympic bid.
A delighted World Squash Federation Chief Executive Andrew Shelley said: “It was wonderful to see the worldwide squash community come together in one massive match. It clearly illustrated the passion the whole sport has for squash’s Olympic bid, as well as promoting squash at national and local level.
Clubs are still uploading their results, but the total is already almost 500 clubs and 25,000 players, from more than 70 different countries, so we feel justified in claiming the record for the world’s biggest competitive sports match on current figures alone.
For the record, Team Squash have held a marginal lead since the very first result, and currently lead by 5,930 to 5,757. We can’t declare a winner yet, but Team 2020 can’t be counted out …
“These figures really illustrate how much players of all abilities care about seeing squash in the 2020 Olympic Games,” added Shelley.
World Squash Day founder Alan Thatcher added: “Hundreds of pictures have been uploaded to the WSD website and Facebook page showing large numbers of happy, smiling people doing what they love best, enjoying the thrill of playing one of the world’s most physically-demanding sports.
“The pictures also showed the lifelong friendships, great sportsmanship and sheer fun that this game delivers. Perhaps some of the after-match parties went on too long and clubs forgot to post their results!”
It was heartening to see so many of the world’s leading players supporting the event:
Women’s world champion Nicol David set a great example. She cycled round Amsterdam to visit every squash club, and also waved banners outside some of the city’s most iconic buildings.
Other former world champions, including Australians Vicky Cardwell and Michelle Martin, joined the action as more than 50 clubs participated Down Under.
Leading Egyptian stars Nour El Sherbini and Raneem El Weleily also played a special WSD challenge match in Alexandria (11-8 in the fifth to Nour for 1 point to Team 2020).
World Squash Day was also celebrated in some exotic locations, with Reunion Island hosting a team from Mauritius. Frenchman Thierry Lincou, who hails from Reunion, beat fellow former world champion David Palmer in a match to mark World Squash Day.
One of the biggest events took place at the Tanglin Club in Singapore, where they joined forces with the British Club and Hollandse Club to stage 188 matches. A 24-hour marathon in Slovenia attracted more than 300 players; 334 matches took place over 15 centres in the Czech Republic; and Gravelines in France featured 140 competitors.
A huge event in Hong Kong was followed by a flash mob dance in the heart of the city, which attracted national media attention.
There was a raft of messages of support, including one from double Olympian Dame Kelly Holmes, while WSF President N Ramachandran summed up his delight by saying:
“Our sport cares about promoting itself. It cares deeply about our Olympic aspirations and developing and innovating. World Squash Day is a superb illustration of this.”