World No.2 Nouran Gohar and her husband Ziad Elsissy have the opportunity to tread new ground in Los Angeles and become the first married couple to win medals for Egypt at the same Olympic Games.
Although Gohar has a more than impressive squash CV to her name – having already won three WSF World Team Championships, finished runner up in three PSA World Championships, and spent 87 weeks as the World No.1 – the sporting talent in her household doesn’t stop there, with Elsissy a fencing champion in his own right.
With a World Cup bronze medal under his belt, as well as a gold medal in the individual sabre event at the 2022 Mediterranean Games, Elsissy harbours ambitions of competing for medals at both the upcoming Paris Games and in Los Angeles in 2028.
Gohar and Elsissy will hope to add to Egypt’s current tally of 38 medals and bringing home individual honours from America.
On the potential of both of them reaching the LA28 Olympic Games, Gohar said: “That’s the goal, to push each other to firstly qualify for the Olympics, and then compete for a medal.
“I think we are both capable of doing this, but we know at the same time how many sacrifices, how much hard work, and how many tough times we are going to face, but I think it is worth it and it is worth every one of these struggles and sacrifices.
“I think we are very willing to be doing this and it is going to be a dream for our family.”
With Elsissy having already experienced a flavour of the Olympic Games in Tokyo, Gohar admitted that a slight jealousy had crept up on her during squash’s years in the Olympic wilderness.
However, the recent decision to grant the sport a place on the 2028 Olympic roster presents the couple with the unique opportunity to travel to Los Angeles together as part of the Egyptian team.
And after taking up the role of athlete representative for squash’s presentation to the Olympic Organising Committee, Gohar seems as determined as any to represent their country in five year’s time.
She said: “Ziad always talks to me about how the Olympic Village looks and when he showed me pictures of it I felt a bit jealous!
“Obviously, I’ll try and do everything to qualify for the Olympics in 2028 and I think he will do the same.
“Right now, he is competing for the Paris Games and I think if I were to be playing the LA28 games, which hopefully I will, he won’t retire before then and he would want to be competing at the same time.
“It is actually interesting because I don’t think many athletes or many couples had Olympians in different sports.
“It would be amazing for him to be able to come and watch me at the squash event and me to go watch him during the fencing event.
“Competing together at the same time, at the most prestigious event in sport, would be huge for both of us, and we would do all in our power to win a medal.”
Gohar added that the steps taken in the women’s game over the last decade will only help its popularity at the LA28 games – despite this being the sport’s first-ever appearance at the Olympics.
The increase in popularity of squash in the United States is also notable when considering its spot in Los Angeles, with four American women currently ranked inside the top 15 of the PSA World Rankings.
The sport is also set to continue flourishing at grassroots level in America as a result of the LA28 decision, with US Squash set to double its investment in growth initiatives over the next five years – focusing on expanding access to squash among the nation’s youth at public school level and collegiately.
On the impact that Olympic inclusion could have on the sport, Gohar said: “I do think that squash is an exciting sport to watch on TV for sure, but I think it is even more exciting when you watch it in person. The speed and the tactics make it very exciting.
“I also think in the last five to ten years, the women’s game has really stepped up; it’s so enjoyable to watch the women’s game right now, so I think it will bring amazing shots, while the physicality also plays a huge role.
“I think the brand of squash is getting better and better every day and anyone who were to watch squash would fall in love with it.
“It’s very intense, but there is still some beauty in the tactics. It’s a complete sport that has all the aspects for the Olympics!”