May 20 - Zena Wooldridge, former chair of England Squash, has been elected as the new President of the European Squash Federation (ESF) to become the second female leader in the continental governing body's 40-year history.
Wooldridge (pictured top), who is also the sport's technical delegate at the International University Sports Federation (FISU), was the youngest female England Squash chair between 2006 and 2012, alongside her paid job as director of sport at the University of Birmingham.
She will now lead the ESF and its 42 member nations – ranging in size from England, with almost 5,000 courts, to "younger" squash nations such as Liechtenstein and Macedonia with far smaller numbers.
Squash is among the sports bidding to appear at the 2020 Olympic Games - alongside baseball-softball, roller sports, sport climbing, wakeboarding and wushu, who are up against wrestling, recommended for exclusion after Rio 2016 - and Wooldridge stressed the benefits Olympic inclusion would bring to the sport.
"Europe has some of the leading squash nations in the world, but also some new fast-emerging nations such as Poland, which is investing rapidly in new squash centres, and is now hosting a range of European and World Championships, which is great to see," she said.
"The ESF has some very committed expert volunteers, who are doing some impressive work to support development in many of our smaller member nations.
"Israel reaching the final of last weekend's European Under-15 Championship is a prime example of how new nations are developing.
"If squash becomes an Olympic sport later this year, I'm sure this growth will escalate.
"It's an exciting prospect for the sport."
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) will vote on whether to include one of the bidding sports in the 2020 Olympic programme on September 8 this year at its 125th IOC Session in Buenos Aires.
Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]
March 2013: IOC confirm date for crucial 2020 bid sport presentations
March 2013: Squash still confident of 2020 Olympic bid despite wrestling pressure