Jacques Fontaine (third right) has been appointed as the new WSF President ©WSF

Jacques Fontaine placed gaining Olympic recognition at the top of the agenda after being elected as the new President of the World Squash Federation (WSF) today.

The head of the French Squash Federation saw off competition from three rivals at the organisation's Annual General Meeting in Hong Kong and will replace India's N. Ramachandran who is serving his second and final four-year term.

Under Ramachandran's leadership squash has again been unsuccessful in its attempts to become a full Olympic sport, with some putting the blame at the door of the Indian.

Fontaine, also a European regional vice president, becomes the first Frenchman to lead the WSF and its ninth President in all since the governing body was founded in 1967.

He was elected by delegates representing 59 National Federations, seeing off the challenge of Natalie Grainger, Mohamed El Menshawy and Zena Wooldridge.

Grainger, a former world number one from the United States, recently won the world over 35s title, while Egypt's El Menshawy has been a WSF vice president for six years.

England's Grainger is the President of the European Squash Federation.

"My intention will be to work with a new governance model based on integrity, transparency and team spirit," said Fontaine after his victory.

"The WSF needs to establish a defined agreement with the professional section of our discipline, the Professional Squash Association. 

"The Olympic agenda remains a priority, along with increasing the profile of our sport worldwide and supporting grassroots development.

"Collaboration of all member nations is a must."

Squash was one of three nominated sports to not be recommended by Tokyo 2020’s Additional Events Programme Panel in September last year, along with bowling and wushu.

Baseball and softball, karate, skateboarding, sport climbing and surfing were instead added to the Games schedule in the Japanese capital.

Jacques Fontaine replaces India's outgoing N Ramachandran ©Getty Images
Jacques Fontaine replaces India's outgoing N Ramachandran ©Getty Images

The sport also lost out to rugby sevens and golf for inclusion at Rio 2016 after a similar disappointment before London 2012.

In 2013, it was shortlisted as a "new" sport ahead of rock climbing, karate and roller sports, before being "side-lined", in the words of Ramachandran, when the IOC reintroduced the previously axed wrestling for Tokyo 2020.

A rift in the sport following the latest failure led to a coalition of National Federations spearheading the formation of a Task Force to operate independently of the WSF.

Its job is to analyse the current situation globally for squash and to continue to support Olympic ambitions.

"I want to say what an honour I feel in my heart to have had the opportunity to serve our member nations and the sport for the last eight years as your President," said Ramachandran, who took on the role in 2008 having previously been President of the Asian Regional Federation.

"I have had the privilege of not only having good teams behind me, but so much support from so many people generally. 

"I leave feeling that I have taken WSF forward."

Four new vice presidents were also elected today, including President of the Colombian Squash Federation Pablo Serna.

Australia's five time world champion Sarah Fitz-Gerald was also successful alongside Irish and Malaysian Presidents, Gar Holohan and Huang Ying How respectively.

Pakistan legend Jahangir Khan will serve another term as the WSF's Emeritus President, while Tahiti have been approved as the latest member.

"They bring a tremendous skill set, global representation and an unparalleled commitment," said Fontaine on the new appointments.

"I am confident this will be the beginning of a new era for squash."