Although Ali Farag is unsure whether he will still be playing squash come the LA28 Olympic Games, he remains insistent the momentous decision is a major turning point in the sport’s history.
Squash’s inclusion on the LA28 Olympic roster is a historic milestone for squash, with the International Olympic Committee officially ratifying the LA28 Organising Committee’s recommendation on Monday.
World No.1 Farag, a four-time World Champion and two-time World Team Champion, admitted that the Olympic decision can raise the sport’s profile significantly in the long-run.
“It can definitely grow the sport big time,” he said.
“I mean it’s going to have a lot more attention from the media, it’s going to have a lot more attention from the governments. You see what the Commonwealth Games and the Pan Am Games and the likes of it transcends to our sport and then the Olympic Games, as we said, is bigger than them all.
“Squash has got everything. It’s got all the skill sets you need. The stamina, the endurance, the technical ability, the mental challenge. It has everything in the book.
“You want to watch an athletic sport, it’s on legs. You want to watch something that requires a very high IQ, you watch chess. We combine both, and in my opinion, bring the most beautiful sport in the world.”
On a personal note, Farag, who turned 31 in April, will take it one step at a time on the road to LA28, with the World No.1 remaining unsure whether he will still be at the peak of his powers or whether he might have checked out of the game by the time the quadrennial event comes around.
The Egyptian has enjoyed prior success when representing his country, being a part of Egypt’s World Team Championship-winning squads in 2017 and 2019 – coming away victorious from both his finals singles matches in the process.
And despite remaining determined to try and represent Egypt in 2028 no matter his age, Farag was quick to insist he cared more about how the decision could positively impact the sport than his own personal ambitions.
He said: “I think it’s a dream for any squash player or any athlete really to raise their flag on the Olympic stage, the biggest of all.
“It means absolutely everything. You’ve heard Nicol David once saying, ‘I would trade all my eight world championships for an Olympic gold medal,’ and it shows how big of a thing it is.
“Obviously, whether I’m going to be there or not is a big question. Of course, I’m not getting any younger. But it’s not about me here. It’s about our sport.”
“I never thought I was going to play until the mid-30’s, but then now that you have the Olympics on the line, there’s something you don’t want to miss, so I’ll keep pushing for it.
“Whether I’m going to be able to still be at the top of my game at the age of 36 is a big question mark, but I’ll do my very best to be there.”
Although the LA28 Olympics isn’t a home event on paper for Farag, the 31-year-old has a fond relationship with the United States, having spent his junior years studying at Harvard University, winning his first World Championship title in Chicago in 2019, and his wife Nour El Tayeb having given birth to their child Farida in the very same city.
On the potential of playing in Los Angeles in five years’ time, Farag said: “Yeah, obviously the United States means a lot to me.
“I’ve studied here, I’ve had a lot of success here as well and LA is such a beautiful city as well, so to raise my country’s flag in LA in 2028 would be a dream.
“I’ll be 36 at the time, so hopefully I can do it, but obviously it’s too early to say anything.”