It seems strange to write that one of the seven wonders of the world played host to a racket sport tournament this November.
I am certain that the frantic game of squash was not a fixture in the lives of Ancient Egyptians. However, the Great Pyramid of Giza has a history of providing a stunning backdrop to squash’s biggest tournaments, including this year’s Squash World Championships.
I feel as if those in the crowd would have counted themselves lucky to just be taking in the scenery, yet it was the performance of Nour El Sherbini that stole the show.
El Sherbini, who celebrated her 24th birthday on the day of the final, comfortably breezed past fellow Egyptian, Raneem El Welily, 11-4, 9-11, 11-5, 11-6 to lift her fourth World Championship trophy.
With David Palmer being the most recent to win a World Championship title in the presence of old Egyptian Pharaohs in 2006, El Sherbini’s victory seems well overdue.
That said, the four-time world champion has not had it all her way in recent times. A knee injury kept her out of action as she dropped down to number four in the world rankings.
However, El Sherbini would not let her injury get in the way of the title, even when playing against an opponent who has been on top in the not so distant past – El Welily defeated El Sherbini in the 2016 Al Ahram Open in front of the Pyramids.
The women’s World Championship showcased the true dominance of Egyptian squash but the home-grown talent does not stop there. Just before the women’s final, the somewhat underdog Abdel Gawad beat Ali Farag in straight games to become the CIB Egyptian Open champion.
The future of squash, it would seem, is firmly in the grasp of the Egyptian players who have the luxury of playing in front of the country’s icons of the past.