Last month, Samantha Teran, the most successful Mexican squash player of all time, was named as President of the Association of Pan American Sports Confederations’ (ACODEPA) Athletes Commission.
In her new role, the former World No.11 will work with a number of athletes who represent a range of sports in Pan-American countries.
We caught up with the 11-time Pan American Games medallist to get her thoughts on her new appointment, what it means for squash and what her life has been like since the COVID-19 pandemic.
Q: Samantha, congratulations on being named President of ACODEPA’s Athletes Commission – how much of an honour is this?
Samantha Teran: To be true I wasn’t expecting this nomination. Being President of ACODEPA’s Athletes Commission means that I will be representing the most formidable athletes in the American continent. That gives me a feeling of great honor, commitment and responsibility.
Q: How did this position come about?
ST: First, I received the news from Francisco Paradisi [Federation of Panamerica Secretary General] that I had been nominated within the Federacion Panamericana de Squash, to be their representative in the election to come for the ACODEPA Athlete’s Commission.
Afterwards, It was with great surprise that I was informed that I had been named President of the commission.
Q: What does the position involve?
ST: I’ll be mediating the relationship between several stakeholders and opening communication channels between officials and athletes while having in mind that we can all reach further if we unite towards a common goal.
There will be many challenges, some ahead, and others that are already here! One of these challenges is to see that sports that always have had presence in the PanAmerican games, like squash, will continue to be a part of it in future editions.
As a President and as before, I will always give my full support to squash, so it can keep growing and achieve more visibility.
Q: What do you hope to bring to the role?
ST: For many years I’ve been having the opportunity to know the different stakeholders. Problems mostly come up due to flaws in communication.
I first plan on bringing an open ear to ensure I understand everyone’s concerns. Only then I can start planning individual strategies in order to make ends meet.
One of my goals will be to foster the collective consciousness of all athletes, and to create bonds that will serve the common good.
Q: You’ve had a prolific career at the PanAm Games – what have those meant to you down the years?
ST: The periodicity with which the PanAmerican Games take place and their importance, have always given me a baseline that guided my individual goals.
Working as a team gives you a sense of belonging and commitment to a higher purpose.
Q: What are your PanAm Games highlights?
ST: All PanAm Games are enriched by the local cultures of the cities where their take place, making every edition special and unique. I have participated in six games and I have enjoyed everyone of them.
The one I liked the most was the Guadalajara 2011 where I could feel the full support of my people. I also had the fortune of wining two gold and one bronze medals. I also remember the first Games with a special affection [Winnipeg 99], because it was the first time I represented México and at the time I was only 17 years old.
Lima 2019 meant my last participation in the games. I had the privilege to share this farewell with my team, other athletes, referees and many other incredible people. With them I shared many special moments throughout the years, and this is best I can take from the sport.
What has life been like for you during the COVID-19 pandemic?
ST: Like all of us I been taking all preventive measures broadly broadcast by the media. l’m fortunate to have a squash club which allows me to keep on training while being safe.
Q: Has the pandemic given you chance to take up any hobbies?
ST: The fact that restaurants can only be open for takeaway has made me spend more hours in the kitchen! I’ve been practicing some new recipes and some come up quite good.
I’m also catching up on some missed movies!
Q: What has Mexico’s response to the pandemic been like?
ST: We have united to stop the spread of the virus. Nevertheless Mexico has some characteristics like high population density and economic issues that make it harder to be successful in the fight against the virus.
We have now entered the phase called ‘the new normality’, where the government has planned several stages towards exiting the crisis.
Q: Lastly, how do you think squash will return following the pandemic?
ST: I believe squash has features that make it more resilient to the danger of the spread of the virus. It is not a group sport and you don’t have to share equipment to play it.
In the end it is a strong alternative to other sports, and I hope to see an increase in the activity.
Some years ago it would be very difficult to see a game without being physically present. Nowadays, and by making use of the investment made on high quality technology, we can all enjoy a good squash game from anywhere in the world without loosing sight of the ball!