Sunday,22 July, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1319, (10 - 16 November 2016)
Sunday,22 July, 2018
Issue 1319, (10 - 16 November 2016)

Ahram Weekly

Two at the top

Karim Abdel-Gawad was named squash’s world champion at the Wadi Degla PSA Men’s World Championship while Raneem Al-Welili came first at the club’s Women’s Open. Abeer Anwar covered both tournaments in which Egyptians won

Al-Ahram Weekly

Karim Abdel-Gawad, ranked third in the world, took the 2016 Wadi Degla PSA Men’s World Championship title after a long journey, the most difficult of which was the semi-final where he defeated the world’s No 1 and compatriot Mohamed Al-Shorbagi. Abdel-Gawad then proceeded to the final and overcame his arch-rival and teammate, three-time winner Rami Ashour, who retired in the fourth game due to injury. Ashour, nicknamed the magician, was going well, winning the first set, losing the second and third but made up in the fourth until point 10 when he took a three-minute injury timeout but never returned.

Abdel-Gawad, the 25-year-old who is a coach and player in Wadi Degla, was cheered by the spectators after he fought back from a game down to go 3-1 up (5-11, 11-6, 11-7, 2-1 rtd (50m).

Abdel-Gawad becomes the third Egyptian to win the world title after Amr Shabana and Ashour.

“I still can’t believe it,” Abdel-Gawad told the press after the final match. “I’m grateful to my team who helped me to come back after having a bad start in the competition but they helped to come back on court together with my family’s support. Also, I owe my coaches, Omar Abdel-Aziz, Mohamed Abbas, and my fitness coach, Ali Ismail, so much as they were the soldiers behind the scenes who helped me to recover quickly and be up to the challenge the following day.

“Ashour is a legendary player. He is the magician and I have enjoyed playing against him in the final but I feel sorry for his injury which appeared again. He’s great for many generations and all the generations learn a lot from him, even me. I wish him a speedy recovery.”

The women’s Wadi Degla Open title was claimed by Raneem Al-Welili after she beat compatriot and fellow Wadi Degla member Nouran Gohar in four games.

Al-Welili was a superstar at the Women’s Open, beating world No 1 Nicol David (3-2) 9-11, 13-11, 11-7, 8-11, 11-7 in the semi-final round to meet her arch-rival and teammate Gohar. It was the right time for Al-Welili to take revenge as she lost twice to Gohar in both the British Open and the China Open.

“For some reason, I felt that Nouran was a bit nervous at the start,” Al-Welili said. “She was not firing as she normally does. Playing at home is an extra pressure on us.”

“I’m very happy to win this final,” Al-Welili said. “Nouran is a tough opponent. She is a great player on and off court. It was a pleasure to play against her in this Wadi Degla final. Today, it was not about revenge or who would play better. Nouran and I play at least once every two weeks. She knows my game and I know hers. It was all about who would manage the event, the conditions, better. My win against Nicol gave me a huge boost, a lot of confidence, and I think that’s what made a huge difference at the final.”

“Sometimes the universe works in the way that you don’t understand,” Ashour said. “Sometimes there are things that you really can’t control. Whatever happens in my life, I have to accept it. There are a lot of things that work in very mysterious ways; we just don’t understand them. I keep on learning the hard way and there is always so much to learn. As long as I’m still breathing, I’ll just keep trying. It’s the thing that I feel so much happiness when I do and thank you all for being here for me.”

“It is a great honour for Wadi Degla to host such a huge event that is on the World Squash Federation calendar and with the greatest amount of money prize ever in a world championship,” Hassan Al-Mistekawi, Wadi Degla chairman, said. “It was also good for Egypt as it sent a message to the whole world through the champions participating that Egypt is safe and secure.”

“It was a great honor for us to organise such a big event successfully,” Karim Darwish, the championship’s manager, said. “We were up to the challenge and I hope to be able to stage the event regularly.”

The final was attended by Khaled Abdel-Aziz, the minister of youth and sports, who thanked Wadi Degla for holding such a prestigious event. He said he hoped other clubs would host international events “since this would be reflected on Egypt and the Egyptian economy”. Abdel-Aziz added that Wadi Degla presented several world champions in squash in addition to other sports “which reflects its excellent administration and management plan”.

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