World Squash Federation President N Ramachandran has hailed the WSF World Cup as “a tremendous success – one couldn’t have wished for more.”
The 2011 championship came to a sensational climax in India on Saturday, when favourites Egypt toppled second seedsEngland in the final at the at the Express Avenue Mall in Chennai.
The unique mixed team JSW SDAT WSF World Cup, featuring two-man-one-woman line-ups, was marking its first of three alternate years in Chennai, staged in the largest shopping complex in southern India.
A spectacular all-glass showcourt was erected in the central atrium of the Express Avenue Mall, in which crowds on four floors were able to witness the world-class action – which was filmed by ESPN for national and international audiences.
“I am very happy that my country has made such a significant investment in this important WSF world championship,” added Ramachandran. “India has a great tradition for hosting major sporting events and I am delighted that our World Cup is now part of this.”
Egypt were led by Ramy Ashour and Karim Darwish, ranked two and three in the world – but it was the squad’s lone woman Raneem El Weleily, the world No12, who clinched victory with a first ever win over England’s women’s world No2Jenny Duncalf.
A jubilant Ashour then hailed the triumph as something his country “really needed” in view of the current unrest.
“After all the troubles we have had in our country, the nation’s pride is now getting bigger. Everyone back home was desperate for us to win.
“It’s moments like this that make you feel proud to be Egyptian,” said the 23-year-old former world champion and world number one. “We are very, very proud of what we have achieved.”
The win is the latest success in Egypt’s rapidly-growing status in world squash. Following recent success in the Men’s World Team Championship, the Men’s World Junior Individual Championship, and Men’s & Women’s World Junior Team Championships, the World Cup is the fifth major world title currently held by the nation.
The Bronze medal play-off, between third seeds Australia and fifth seeds Malaysia, prompted a visit to the Mall by the Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia, The Honourable Tan Sri Muhyiddin HJ Mohd Yassin. He and a group of Malaysian dignitaries – including HE Dato’ Tan Seng Sung, the High Commissioner of Malaysia to India, and Mr Anuar Kasman, Consul General of Malaysia in Chennai – witnessed the country’s six-time Sportswoman of the Year Nicol David, the long-time world number one, force the tie into a third match decider.
Championship Director Major Maniam was delighted with the success of the event: “After being involved with the firstWorld Cup in Kuala Lumpur in 1996 as coach and organiser, I got hooked on this event. I sincerely feel that this is one of the best team events you can think of – with men and women combined.
“The WSF must aggressively pursue this so that more countries participate in future events. I believe that the WSF should also consider the idea of a Junior World Cup, which would perfectly complement the senior event.
“We are most grateful to our title sponsors JSW Steel – and we must acknowledge the excellent support we have received from the Tamil Nadu Government, the Sports Development Authority of Tamil Nadu (SDAT) and the Squash Rackets Federation of India. Together, we have been working tirelessly towards this event for the last three months – which is why I am able to sit here now, basking in the event’s success.
“From the time I first saw the Express Avenue Mall, I thought it would be ideal for the event – and we were really impressed with the speed at which they said ‘yes’! I must thank the Mall’s Managing Director Mrs Kavita Singhania and her staff for the fantastic support in helping to make the 2011 World Cup so special.”
In conclusion, WSF CEO Andrew Shelley added: “World Cups are synonymous with the very best. The top cricketers are playing theirs at the moment, and the world stops for football’s. Ours may not command quite the same level of media attention as the other two, but we have an ingredient they do not – mixed teams.
“It’s a great format which, following on from the success here in Chennai, will mean that the next is even more eagerly awaited.
“There has been a fine hosting job which has provided international TV of some superlative squash. It has been a great week!”