Egypt plays host as women’s world champion in squash to earn more prize money than men’s

Zeina Mickawy of Egypt reacts during the Professional Squash Association (PSA) Women's World Championship in Giza, on the outskirts of Cairo, October 26, 2019. (Reuters / File Photo)
Updated 31 October 2019

Egypt plays host as women’s world champion in squash to earn more prize money than men’s

  • In historic first, women’s prize money higher than men’s
  • Egypt tops every category of squash for both genders

CAIRO: The female world squash champion will receive more prize money than the male equivalent for the first time at the CIB PSA Women’s World Championship in Egypt this month as the sport takes gender equality to a new level.
The tournament, taking place against the backdrop of the pyramids of Giza, is awarding the women’s champion $48,640 out of a purse of $430,000. The men’s champion will get $45,600 from a pot of $335,000 in their concurrent event in Qatar.
“With the prize money of the women’s being so high, even higher than the men’s world champs this year, it is great for our sport to actually have the women appreciated,” said Raneem El Welily, the female world number one.
“As a player, I feel very lucky to be part of such a strong era in squash history.”
El Welily is one of four Egyptian women vying for the record fund, as she takes on Nouran Gohar in the semifinals while Hania El Hammamy faces Nour El Sherbini for a place in Friday’s final.
The increase in prize money was enabled by sponsor CIB pledging an additional $100,000 into the pot.
Aside from the unique location, Egypt is a fertile market for squash as the top four men in the game are from the North African nation, including world champion and number one Ali Farag, as well as four out of the five top women.
“The pyramids championship that began in the late 90s, of course, we all hoped to play on such a big stage one day,” said Farag.
The top junior players are also Egyptian for both genders, helped by the fact the country has the world’s biggest squash academy. Egypt is also world champion in the teams categories for men and women, as is the case with juniors for both genders.
“There are countries that are just talented at particular sports, like China is talented at ping pong, Brazil is talented at football — we are talented at squash,” former world number one Karim Darwish said.
“In squash, there are constantly champions who children always look to and want be like, so people believe that they can reach that status.”


Fernando Alonso ramps up Dakar Rally preparations with podium finish at AlUla-Neom cross-country rally

Updated 14 November 2019

Fernando Alonso ramps up Dakar Rally preparations with podium finish at AlUla-Neom cross-country rally

  • The result comes at perfect timing less than two months before two-time Formula 1 world champion tackles Dakar
  • Saudi driver Yazeed Al-Rajhi took first place

JEDDAH: Fernando Alonso continued his preparations for his Dakar Rally debut in Saudi Arabia by taking third place in AlUla-Neom Cross-Country Rally and secure his inaugural rally podium finish in the process this week.
The result comes at perfect timing less than two months before two-time Formula 1 world champion Alonso takes the wheel for Dakar Saudi Arabia 2020, the Middle East’s first-ever edition of Dakar Rally, which is hosted by the kingdom from 5 to 17 January.
“It was an ideal preparation for Dakar as we discovered new terrain that we will come across again at Dakar,” Alonso said.
“It is a great feeling to finish third and get the first rally podium in my life. The fact that it happened here in Saudi Arabia at this time gives us a lot of confidence going into Dakar,” Alonso added.
Starting in AlUla and extending over 765km before the finale in Neom, AlUla-Neom Cross-Country Rally was contested across four stages over five days, and the former Formula 1 champion said it was an “excellent training” for him on a similar terrain and in close weather conditions to what would be expected at Dakar.
Saudi driver Yazeed Al-Rajhi took first place at Al Ula-Neom Cross-Country Rally, while compatriot Yasir Seaidan finished second, with Alonso rounding off the podium places.
Alonso, who made his desert rally debut in Morocco last month, was co-driven by five-time Dakar bike winner Marc Coma, and the Spanish duo will be together again at Dakar Saudi Arabia as part of the Toyota Gazoo Racing team.
The 2005 and 2006 Formula 1 champion got his campaign at Al Ula-Neom Cross-Country Rally underway to a good start on Day 1 before taking the pace up a notch on the second and third days to set his team up for a podium finish on the last day. “We continue with our plan and preparations, step by step and adapting as fast as we can,” Alonso said of his plans ahead of Dakar.
Dakar Saudi Arabia 2020 will consist of 12 stages, allowing pilots coming from across six continents to discover Saudi Arabia’s rich past, live its modernized present, and meet its future as they race through the Kingdom.
The pilots will kick off Rally Dakar from Jeddah, the bride of the Red Sea, through to Neom, a fully sustainable city of the future, then pass by the historical sites of Riyadh to face the Empty Quarter, a huge desert of unbroken sand, to end in Qiddiya, a future entertainment, sports and cultural destination.
A criminal investigation was been launched after an armed man intercepted a vehicle taking part in the rally.