Dubai: Ahmed Barada, Amr Shabana, Karim Darwish - the list of great squash players coming out of Egypt is one of the most intriguing phenomenon of the sport. There is another feather in the cap for the Arab nation as Tarek Momen and Raneem El Welily have been recognised by the Guinness World Records as the ‘first married couple to become squash world champions.’
Momen,32, has bagged the 2019-20 Professional Squash Association (PSA) men’s world champion trophy last November, seeing off New Zealand’s Paul Coll - a world No.5. Alexandria-born Raneem El Welily,31, was the 2017 women’s World Open winner - apart from being the player who ended Nicol David’s nine-year run as the uninterrupted world No.1 by topping the world rankings in September, 2015 – becoming the first Egyptian female star in any sport to be crowned world No.1.
The duo – who tied the knot in 2014 – hence defied the odds to defeat higher seeded and higher-ranking opposition to figure on top of the world rankings in their sport.
Replying to a query from the Guinness World Records about the mystery of Egyptian players’ global excellence in squash since the 90s, Momen said: “There are many theories, but I can tell you that Egypt’s squash hegemony offers lessons in how any country can compete in any individual sport, with the right combination of history, culture and geography.”
The current top four men in the world rankings are Egyptians while six more are in the top 20. Since 2003, an Egyptian has won the men’s world championship 10 times. And despite the fact that only few Egyptian women played the game at the beginning of the new millennium, all four of the top women’s squash players are Egyptian at the moment.
“It was that breakout performances by a 19-year-old Barada that started the craze. Academies here host massive number of enthusiasts aged from five to 10. I can honestly tell you that there are enough talents in these academies that could dominate squash for the next 20 years,” he elaborated.
“It is passion for sure, no question about it. Paving your way to the top is never easy. Raneem and I, for instance, would have never made it to smash a Guinness World Records title without passion. Achievement are always rewarding, it is not only that we broke the world record, but also made glory by becoming the first, so no one else is to break that record anytime in future.”