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Jahangir laments decline in squash standards
August 01, 2004 21:46 IST
Pakistan squash legend and World Squash Federation president Jahangir Khan feels the standard of the game, which calls for supreme fitness, has fallen a bit since his time.
Khan, arguably the world's best-ever player in the sport played inside four walls with six world titles and 11 British Opens, also says the sport would have to wait till at least 2012 to become part of the Olympic Games.
The one-time emperor of the game was in Mumbai to present the prizes as the chief guest at the Rs 600,000 Herald Martime Open tournament, at the Otters Club in suburban Bandra, which concluded on Saturday night.
Speaking to newspersons after the nerve-wracking five-game final, in which US-based second seed Sidharth Suchde beat top seeded national champion Ritwik Bhattacharya, Khan commended the progress made by the Indian youngsters in the game.
"There's a perceptible decline in world standards. When I was playing the competition was really tough. I don't find that kind of competition now," Khan said.
About the game's standard in his own country which has seen so many great players in the past, including himself and his successor Jansher Khan, he said, "We don't have that level now."
Khan, who last visited Mumbai over a decade ago, said the world squash body is trying to include the game in the Olympic Games for some years now, but admitted the goal is tough to achieve in the face of competition from several other sports to make the grade.
"So many other games, including rugby, golf and even cricket, are trying to become part of the Olympic Games. We have also been trying for the last few years. It's not going to be easy. They have set a limit of 10,000 participants in every Games. Now they are trying to take out a few and include some new ones," he said.
"Millions of people play our game and we have 123 countries affiliated to us. I definitely feel squash should be part of the Olympics. But I cannot see it happening before 2012," he pointed out.
Khan praised the progress made by the younger lot of Indian players, saying a pointer to this is the fact that an Indian, Chennai-based Sourav Ghosal, is the top seed in the forthcoming World Juniors championship. "You have a lot of talented youngsters," he added.
Asked about Indo-Pakistan squash contests, Khan said he would welcome such contests as he always felt politics should be kept away from the sporting arena.
"I would love to see Indo-Pak contests. I am against any sort of politics. I would love to see Indian players coming to Pakistan and vice-versa. I am glad to be here," he said.
Khan also said that the game has spread more in Asia now with Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore too producing more players apart from the sub-continent. Khan said as a player he preferred the older system of scoring with games decided over nine points instead of the present 15.
"I preferred the games fought over nine points as fitness counted a lot and there was a chance to come back even if you were down. The present system gives 50-50 chance to fitness and technique," he said.
In the old system, a point could be scored only on the player's serve and not otherwise, but currently points are scored on the opponent's serves too, Khan said.
He ruled himself out of contention of any coaching assignment in the future. "Coaching needs lot of time to give. I don't have that much time," he concluded.