India's medal hopes at the next year's Asian Games, slated in China's Hangzhou in September, were given another push as Asian Squash Federation has decided to include mixed double events for the first time in the quadrennial event.
Asian Squash Federation chief David Mui informed of the development to the affiliated nation, including Squash Rackets Federation of India (SRFI), and the World Squash Federation (WSF) via an email on Wednesday.
"I am delighted to inform you that Mixed Doubles will be included as one of the competition events in Squash in 2022 Asian Games in Hangzhou, China (sic)," the ASF chief wrote.
Mui also praised Indian squash administrator Narayana Ramachandra, former WSF President, for making it happen.
"Just as importantly, I would also like to give my sincere thanks to our Patron Mr N. Ramachandran for his tremendous assistance and support to make this happen," he wrote.
At the moment, there are four events of squash at Asiad: Men's and women's singles and men's and women's team events. And with the inclusion of the mixed doubles, India's leading squash stars Saurav Ghosal, Joshna Chinappa, Dipika Pallikal Karthik among others will be looking to add another feather in their cap.
Expressing his happiness on the news, SRFI general secretary Cyrus Poncha said: "It is great news for India as we have always been among the medal contenders at the Asian Games. Having another medal-winning opportunity is fabulous for India overall as doubles is something that has won India in the past in the Commonwealth Games (Dipika and Joshna won women's doubles gold in 2014) and will be a strong contender at the Asian Games too."
As far as the Asiad is concerned, squash, a non-Olympics sport, has seen India bag 13 medals at the event since its inclusion at the 1998 Asian Games in Bangkok with one gold (in the men's team event at the 2014 Incheon Asian Games).
At the last Asiad in Jakarta, India bagged a medal each in all the four events with the women's team (consisting of Joshna, Dipika, Tanvi Khanna and Sunayna Kuruvilla) losing the final match to settle for silver. Men's World No. 13 Saurav also won a bronze medal while leading the men's team for the same while Dipika took home the women's bronze.