Many milestones were achieved in squash and it wouldn't be wrong to call 2014 a landmark year for the sport in India.
The players’ efforts ensured that the country emerged as a strong force in Asia. At the Glasgow Commonwealth Games held in July, Joshna Chinappa and Dipika Pallikal made history by winning gold in women’s doubles event — India’s first ever gold in CWG.
It could have been doubly sweet had Saurav Ghosal won the men’s singles gold too. Ghosal lost his gold medal match to Abdullah Al Muzayen of Kuwait, but clinched a historic silver medal at the CWG. Players won more laurels at the Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea. Having won bronze medals in the previous edition of the Games, they won a gold for the first time ever this time around as the Indian men’s team, comprising of Ghosal, Harinder Pal Sandhu, Kush Kumar and Mahesh Maangaonkar, struck gold.
Ghosal clinched a silver medal in men’s singles while Pallikal settled for bronze in the women’s singles. Meanwhile, the Indian women’s team, comprising of Pallikal, Anaka Alankamony and Chinappa, lost to Malaysia 0-2 in the final.
The players summed up the year as the landmark one.
World No 23 Ghosal said, “The big highlight of 2014 was definitely the Asian Games. Winning the team gold is my biggest achievement ever. Losing the individual final was very hard, it’s something that will hurt me always.”
Meanwhile, Pallikal was happy to have won medals for the country even if they meant that her world rankings dipped from 10 to her current 16. “I think what we achieved this year individually and as a team has been phenomenal. This is something that we always dreamt of doing. I hope our achievements inspires a lot of people to take up our sport,” said the 23-year-old who aims to get back into the top-10 rankings in 2015.
Echoing similar emotions, Chinappa said that with the fairytale year about to end, it’s time to get back to the regular grind. “In 2014, I focused a lot on playing for India and I was successful too. In 2015, my aim is to break into the top-20. I just want to be fitter, stronger and rankings will automatically show,” said World No 22 Chinappa.
While city lad Maangaonkar, currently ranked 47, said: “This has been a phenomenal year for me personally and watching Saurav and Harinder play at the Asian Games I am inspired to do well in 2015.”