On Sunday the world of professional squash just about came to a standstill. Never has one decision seemed to matter so much, nor has any one decision threatened to have greater impact. If squash were to secure a place in the Olympic Games the possibilities looked endless, whereas failure may or may not point to stagnation. Olympic sports get funding, and profile; they enjoy increased exposure and most importantly are recognised on the ultimate sporting platform and such upshots are tantalising for squash. This was our third bid since 2005 and we dared to dream again.
The kitchen sink was thrown at a slick bid but it failed miserably yet again. President Rogge twisted the dagger, announcing that 'Wrestling, with 49 votes, would be an Olympic Sport for 2020.'
Whilst we knew our 'bid' was as strong as it could have been, having failed the last twice many remained circumspect. The IOC had no idea what they were doing with Wrestling, having booted them out of the programme six months ago; there is more chance of predicting the first three in the Grand National than second guessing what the IOC will do at their various conventions.
The sessions in Buenos Aires left an unpleasant taste. There were microphones and screens and pulpits and each sport had to deliver fancy videos and politically charged, frilled up speeches with sentimental tag lines. This, a sort of political campaigning involving hideous amounts of cash, is clearly what defines a good sport nowadays.
We have endlessly endeavoured to fulfil every IOC request. We have tried to talk up our sport when it shouldn't be necessary. In trying to please the IOC we have been almost reduced to serial bouts of begging, and even that hasn't worked. Current Olympic sports such as Beach Volleyball, swimming, tennis or football don't have to be put through a process which by the end leaves the game of squash practically bereft of dignity.
I am sure squash will try again, but some are losing faith and patience with this process.
We want to be in the Olympics badly, god knows we've said it enough times, and it would be the ultimate event in squash, but we don't necessarily need it. The sport produces magical occasions in spectacular venues across the world, from Grand Central Station to Hong Kong Harbour to San Francisco Bay. We have an exciting men's world championships coming up in Manchester which will be televised on the BBC and the sport is in great shape.
I was in Boston, USA, doing clinics with Amr Shabana, Nick Matthew and Mohamed El Shorbagy with 50 young kids from the area when the decision was announced. It wasn't a good moment and we were severely deflated without being surprised. To exorcise my own incredulity I decided to run down to the nearest courts at pace and embark on a marathon practice session, whacking hell out of the ball for lengthy periods, which left me with blistered hands. Many players, young and old in the squash world, will be nursing their feelings one way or another over the next few days.
We are all tired now. All the tweeting, the publicising, the speeches, the videos; all the hashtagging of this and that and all the millions of times we've said or written 'vote for squash' and 'back the bid'. All of that energy now seems regrettably, to have been wasted, all efforts utterly futile.
It's difficult to be judged repeatedly like this in board rooms every four years. Especially when the result is always negative. We know what we are about and it may well be that we now have to find our own way.
James' book 'Shot and a Ghost' is available at willstrop.co.uk or on kindle.