Fresh from winning her sixth WSA title at the Meadowood Pharmacy Open last month, Dipika Pallikal feels squash deserves to be included in the 2020 Olympics.
She's not the only one voicing support the game. One of the greatest ever tennis players, Roger Federer is urging Olympic officials to include squash in the programme for the 2020 Games.
Even in India, cricket stars like Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag and Harbhajan Singh have expressed support for squash's bid for inclusion in the 2020 Olympics. But this support has left India's wrestling fraternity distraught
Discussing the issue, the World No. 15 said: “I don’t want to comment on what (Olympic medalist) Sushil (Kumar) felt. Everyone has the right to come forward and support the sport they play and for me it is squash. Sporting legends like Sachin, Roger Federer coming out to support the bid for the 2020 Olympics is great and we deserve to be there. Wrestlers at least had an opportunity to represent their country at the biggest sporting extravaganza. But we never did and it’s time we get our dues. Squash is a deprived sport. If they can have a sport like ‘horse dancing’ in Olympics, why not include squash. If it is recognised as an Olympic sport, the profile of the game will be very high,” Pallikal told MiD DAY during her visit to the city.
Being a 21-year-old, Dipika does have other interests and admits to being a huge movie buff. But ask her if she’s interested in acting and the girl who first played in an international tournament while in the sixth grade, is clear that she has no plans to join the brigade of sports stars turning actors.
“I am a huge fan of Aamir Khan and I know that he is an ardent sports lover too. I would love if Bollywood can support squash’s inclusion in Olympics. And if Aamir or for that matter any Khan lends their support for squash it would be a great boost. I’m a tomboy and sport is my calling. Movies can wait,” said Melbourne-based player.
The Chennai-born athlete said that apart from her hometown, she loved Mumbai for its vibrancy and food.
“Shopping is my favourite pastime and I am a die-hard foodie. I love the vibe of the city and whenever I come here I make it a point to go to Pali Village Café in Bandra and have Salmon,” she said.
Like many sports players even she is superstitious. “There are a lot of superstitious things that I do and Sarah (her Australian coach, Sarah Fitz-Gerald) feels that I am crazy. For starters, I always step on to the court with my right foot. I wear different socks in both legs. I bounce the ball three times before I serve and the list is quite long,” she admitted.
Pallikal, though, credits her coach for her success. “Sarah has treated me like her own daughter. She has always inspired me to go that extra mile. I broke into the top 10 club last year (December 2012) and, hopefully by this year-end, I can break into the top five. I nurture a dream of becoming world number 1 one day,” added Pallikal.