With a rueful chuckle, Alex Gough, chief executive of the Professional Squash Association (PSA), admitted that in the wake of the sport’s historic inclusion on the Olympic programme at Los Angeles 2028 he was put in mind of the celebrated comment by late United States tennis player Vitas Gerulaitis.

Having lost 16 successive matches to American rival Jimmy Connors, he announced after ending the run with victory at the 1980 Masters tournament: "Nobody beats Vitas Gerulaitis 17 times in a row."

Before squash earned the nod from Los Angeles 2028 to become one of five new sports at the Games, something which was confirmed by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) a week later at its Session in Mumbai, it had knocked on the Olympics door on four successive occasions without success.

"That Gerulaitis statement was actually spinning round my head quite a bit," said Gough, whose efforts to widen and innovate the presentation of the sport in recent years have been hugely influential in its eventual Olympic arrival.

Between them, the PSA, the World Squash Federation (WSF) and US Squash pulled together all the elements required to persuade Los Angeles 2028 to give the sport a break it had earned in almost 20 years of effort to earn an Olympic place.

Gough, winner of the World Championship singles bronze for Wales in 1997 and Commonwealth Games doubles bronze a year later, was still playing when the initial, unsuccessful attempt was made to get squash into London 2012

But he was involved in the next three attempts involving Rio 2016, Tokyo 2020 and Paris 2024 were concerned. All unsuccessful also - but, as he recalls, some were more unsuccessful than others…

"When we got into the bidding process for Rio 2016, which was... Sports/Squash

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Author: Mike Rowbottom