Why Egypt Crushes at Squash

From a tournament Egypt hosted in 2006
From a tournament Egypt hosted in 2006

From the Atlantic, seeking to explain Egypt’s odd dominance of a sport few Americans play:

On Friday, Egypt’s Ramy Ashour won the squash World Open—basically the Wimbledon of squash. The tournament attracts the best players from around the world. But the final game lacked a certain element of suspense: Both players, Ashour and Mohamed El Shorbagy, were Egyptian.

Even that was predictable. Egyptians dominated the international rankings this year—including El Shorbagy and Ashour, three of the Professional Squash Association’s top five players based on tournament results are Egyptian. As of Friday, Egypt has won seven of the past 12 World Opens—in the history of the tournament, which began in 1976, only Australia and Pakistan have more World Open titles.

Egypt’s prowess in the sport is beginning to extend to international women’s tournaments, junior tournaments, and even American college sports: Egyptian men have won the last three U.S. Intercollegiate Individual Championships, a tournament for the best players attending U.S. universities.

How did so many Egyptians get so good at squash?

Please see the article for details, but then go play yourself, if you can. I learned the game in college. It is far more technical and strategic than racquetball, but a great workout all the same.

Congratulations to Egypt for being the best; if only America cared.

Update: The World Squash Federation decided on March 20 to cancel the world junior championships scheduled this summer in Cairo. The cited concern is the ‘extreme radicalism in the region, not specific to Egypt.’ Unfortunate.

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