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16 Jul 2024

Ramy Ashour Wins World Junior Title

23 Aug 2004

Despite having a record-equalling six players in the quarter-finals, hosts Pakistan failed to take the ultimate prize in the PIA Men's World Junior Championship when Ramy Ashour beat home hero Yasir Butt in today's final in Islamabad to claim the title for Egypt.

A packed crowd, which included the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Choudhary Shujaat Hussain, applauded the players onto the all-glass court at the new Mushaf Squash Complex, for the final of the 13th staging of the event since the inaugural championships in 1980 - featuring two players expected only to reach the quarter-finals.

Right from the start, it was clear that 16-year-old Ramy Ashour, from Cairo, was in the same form which had seen him dismiss the 'Find of the Tournament ' trophy winner, 14-year-old Amir Atlas Khan, in the semi-finals. Butt, in contrast, looked ill at ease and unable to get the long, hard rallies he wanted. The opening rally was completed with an exquisite cross-court backhand drop from the Egyptian.

It was no surprise that the first game went to Ashour 9-5 in some 13 minutes. The second saw his Pakistani opponent come out all guns firing, and errors from Ramy saw Yasir race to a 5-0 lead. But again, Ashour showed a remarkable ability to re-focus and within minutes he led 6-5. At this point, the crowd excitement was such that there were some correct lets for shouting disturbance.

Yasir stuck in and levelled - and at eight-all played what many thought was a winner in a rally he was controlling. A massive shout resulted in another disturbance let and Yasir did not recover from that, losing on a stroke, for not clearing, 8-10.

In the third, Yasir tried to up the pace but was looking demoralised and his error count increased sharply. As a result Ramy did not need to go for any spectacular shots, but simply kept up the pressure - and a mixture of forced and unforced errors saw him triumph 9-5 10-8 9-3 in 46 minutes.

So the young teenager from Egypt, who has endured two major knee operations, became World Junior Champion - "and a most worthy one at that," said event spokesman George Mieras. A section of the crowd were local Egyptians and they raised the roof as Ramy had the gold medal put round his neck by the Prime Minister, then received the World Squash Federation (WSF) trophy from President Jahangir Khan, the former ten-times British Open champion.

In addition, Ashour received a special trophy from the President of the Pakistan Squash Federation Air Chief Marshal Kaleem Saadat.

When asked how he felt after becoming the fourth Egyptian to win the title, Ashour said simply: "I can't believe it, thanks to everyone for everything!"

Ashour brings Egypt's haul of world squash title to three - after Amr Shabana clinched the Men's World Open crown last December, also in Pakistan, and their girls collected the Women's World Junior Team title in Cairo a year ago.

[5/8] Ramy Ashour (EGY) bt [5/8] Yasir Butt (PAK) 9-5, 10-8, 9-3 (46m)