13 - 19 April 2000
Issue No. 477
|Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875|
Egypt Region International Economy Opinion Culture Books Features Travel Living Sports Profile People Time Out Chronicles Cartoons Letters
On the sports map
DURING his 30 months as Red Sea governor, Saad Abu Reeda has made a sports name for Hurghada. First it was squash, then taekwondo, beach volleyball, sailing, handball and football which saw the Red Sea team jump from Division 4 to Division 2 in just two years. "We have three goals together with Al-Ahram," Abu Reeda said. "We want to promote tourism, increase sports awareness and improve the standard of sports among the inhabitants of the area." The governor was all praise for Al-Ahram Organisation for initiating sports events in Hurghada and paid special tribute to Ibrahim Nafie, Hassan Hamdi, Mahmoud El-Khatib and Ibrahim Hegazi, all Al-Ahram members, for their efforts. Along with Al-Ahram, Hurghada will build an Olympic-style village which can host international teams in training or major championships.
Wet and humid
ON the third day of the women's squash tournament, a high level of humidity in Hurghada led to several interruptions while desperate attempts were made to dry the excessively slippery court floor to make it playable. Australia's Carol Owens was serving at 9-8 for the second game in the final qualifying round against England's Natalie Grainger when referee Ahmed Safwat halted play after both players had slipped on the wet floor. The match was moved indoors to the nearby sports complex towards the end of the second game. The new venue was little better in terms of playing conditions, and was also unacceptable to the sponsors, so the match eventually moved back to the showcourt on the beach, where conditions had by then improved sufficiently to enable play to continue. Owens eventually won 3-2, confirming her as group winner and putting Grainger out of the competition. The match, which began at 6.30pm, finished nearly two-and-a-half hours later after evening sea breezes had improved conditions.
The secret of success
AUSTRALIA's Carol Owens, winner of the WISPA (Women's International Squash Professionals Association) Grand Prix Finals, regularly plays -- and beats -- men in her home country. With the game's most powerful drop shots and smashes, Owens consistently trains with members of the opposite sex and has even won in some mixed open championships. But while her shots may be unreturnable, her inconsistency in winning major championships is Owens' big weakness. And at 28, when most women are about to hang up their rackets, Owens knows time is no longer on her side. She admits that non-stop travelling is getting the better of her and that playing in world class tournaments is strenuous. Perhaps as a result, she is at present thinking seriously of coaching. Owens has been coaching junior players in New Zealand for the past three months at a private squash centre.
EGYPT's female national squash team made the most of having the world's best women players in Egypt. While in Hurghada preparing for the Malaysian Open, the Egyptian girls -- Maha Zein, ranked 21 in the world, Salma Shabana, ranked 22, Omneya Abdel-Qawi, ranked 64 and Ingy Khairallah, ranked 86 -- received a few lessons and some precious advice from the world's No 2, Leiliane Joyce of New Zealand. "It's not at all a burden to train the Egyptians," Joyce said. "Maybe they lack the fitness but they play a smarter game."
Mermaid of peace
IN the opening ceremony of the women's game, the eight competing players popped out of boxes floating above the sea that spelt out Hurghada. After the final, a statue in the form of a mermaid surfaced from beneath the waters with a message of peace to the world. The idea belonged to Ibrahim Hegazi, editor-of-chief of Al-Ahram Al-Riyadi, a sports magazine, and a member of the Al-Ahram Organising Committee. "It's a women's event in the Red Sea," said Hegazi. "And the mermaid is a very suitable idea for sending my message to the world. Egypt is a very peaceful country," he added. The mermaid, whose message was given in English and Arabic, was designed by Nabil Selim, an engineer by profession who has handled previous Al-Ahram squash events.
Sports giant falls
FAYEZ El-Zomor, head sports consultant for Egyptian TV, died on Sunday, one day after he was honoured at the WISPA finals. In his final hours, El-Zomor, who died at 61, was honoured by Al-Ahram in a ceremony in Hurghada for his distinguished service and dedication to sport. Shortly after the ceremony he flew to Cairo for a medical check-up but died hours later of a heart attack. Two weeks ago, El-Zomor's mother died just after he had arrived in Hurghada, heading a TV crew to shoot the men and women's squash tournaments. El-Zomor returned to Cairo to attend the funeral then flew back to the Red Sea resort. El-Zomor graduated from the Faculty of Commerce in Cairo University and joined the TV in the 1960s. He worked as a sports announcer on Channel One, and became manager of Channel Two sports programmes and, later, the general manager of Channel One's sports department. Recently, he was appointed head of the television's council for sports programmes.
EGYPT's world No 3 squash star Ahmed Barada, stabbed in the back by a mysterious assailant, visited Hurghada after returning from Germany where he was treated. Barada was spotted at night wearing a cap and a pair of dark sunglasses and accompanied by an unidentified girl in her twenties. He stayed in Germany for 10 days before arriving in Hurghada where he stayed at El-Gouna Resort for four days, avoiding the public, especially the press. However, he appeared at the women's final where he was applauded by spectators before flying to Cairo. Barada, who would have been the third seed in the men's competition, was forced to withdraw from the field after being stabbed twice in the lower back on 20 March in his flat after spending the evening at a friend's engagement party. Doctors have told him he could start training this week and play competitively in another month.