The squash world lost its unarguably most influential woman when New Zealand’s Susie Simcock passed away at the age of 82 on May 29, 2020. Suzie was a trail blazer with an infectious smile who opened doors and made a tremendous impact on squash and the squash community worldwide.
She began playing squash at university while studying to be a physiotherapist. It didn’t take long for Susie to take on major roles; manager of the NZ teams at World Squash Championships, Championship Director of the 1987 Women’s World Open & Team Championship in Auckland.
In 1989 Mrs. Simcock was elected as a World Federation Vice-President and seven years later became the first female, and so far the only female, to be elected President of the World Squash Federation. Susie was one of the most popular Presidents reigning from 1996-2002 and finally stepped down after serving the maximum allowable three two year terms and was honoured with the status of Emeritus President.
Susie forged the strong relationships with key Olympic members, particularly President Jacques Rogge, and was instrumental in the vote for squash to be included in the London Olympic Games of 2012. Unfortunately, the decision was subsequently overturned on a technicality.
“Susie was a pioneer in the world of sport and especially in squash,” said WSF President Jacques Fontaine. “As the first female president of the WSF she paved the way towards establishing squash as one of the main racket sports in the world.
FPS President Francisco Paradisi, a long time friend and colleague of Mrs. Simcock was deeply saddened by the news of her passing saying “Susie was an extraordinary person, dear and admired by those of us who were fortunate enough to meet her, great sportswoman and connoisseur of squash, unconditional friend who will always be in our hearts. God have you in his glory, Rest in Peace dear Susie”.
Another one of Mrs. Simcock’s pastimes was golf. She was an outstanding all round athlete with high energy and unequivocal sportsmanship ethics and enjoyed the outdoors. One could not help but have fun with her on the links.
“I first met Susie at the 2002 World Hardball Doubles in Toronto and like everyone else was immediately blessed with her friendship. The last time we connected was in Christchurch during the 2013 WSF AGM where we shared in a round of golf and another wee drink together. My heart goes out to her husband and family as she was certainly the shining superstar in their lives. Susie has left a massive void around the world in the hearts of all who knew her, but she has also given us some incredible and unforgettable memories.” said Lolly Gillen, Secretary General FPS.
Some of Mrs. Simcock’s accomplishments include:
- Governor of New Zealand’s Sports Foundation chair
- New Zealand Olympic Committee’s Women in Sport Committee member
- The first female council member of the General Assembly of International Sporting Federations
- Leading role in uniting the NZ male and female golf federations
- Governor for the International Masters Games Association
- Executive member of the NZ Olympic & Commonwealth Games Association (Life membership award in 1996)
- Holder of the New Zealand Order of Merit
- Distinguished service award of the Commonwealth Games Federation.
- Recipient of the IOC Women in Sport Award
True to Susie’s amazing persona, when recently diagnosed with terminal malignant duodenum tumour she decided instead of wasting time on cancer treatments to cherish what precious time she had left with her remarkable best friend and loving husband Jon, their children and grandchildren; an unbelievable mother, wife and grandmother.
A good friend and former Chief Executive of the WSF Andrew Shelley expressed the tragic loss as,
“Susie has been a friend, a beacon, an inspiration and a role model for countless people, who, along with her family, have had a tear ripped into their lives. She once said that all through her career she had been breaking down barriers, encouraging more sports to have women in their leadership roles. Susie Simcock will be fondly and enduringly remembered for not just succeeding, but for simply being a totally special person too.”
May she rest in peace.