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.”

‘Water bottle’ weights lift Abu Dhabi athletes to world record

Updated 03 June 2020

‘Water bottle’ weights lift Abu Dhabi athletes to world record

  • Researchers, students claim Guinness World Record with novel training approach

DUBAI: Using water bottles and school bags full of books as weights helped two Abu Dhabi athletes clinch a Guinness World Record (GWR) in a gruelling physical challenge. 

Eva Clarke and Brandon Chin Loy competed as part of a mixed team to complete 12,502 chest to ground burpees in a 24-hour period, more than double the minimum requirement.

The group, including students from an Abu Dhabi university, attempted the record on May 3 and were told they had succeeded on May 27, the same day some members of the team graduated. 

Clarke, a fitness trainer and mother of three who holds a string of Guinness World Records, told Arab News on Monday that taking part in the latest attempt was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

“We started training for this relay event before the lockdown and when the pandemic happened, we thought we had to make the event unique, so we continued to train on Zoom,” she said.

Clarke, who led the fitness classes, held up to 50 workout sessions during the 12-week lockdown, sometimes starting as early as 4:30 a.m.

“Since I had to continue training without access to weights, I made my own by carrying six-packs of water bottles and encouraged the group to do that as well. I am going to miss the online training,” she added.

Clarke’s previous 12 records included most pullups in one hour (female), 12 hours, and 24 hours, equivalent. She also holds titles for the most knuckle pushups in one minute (female), one hour, and 24 hours equivalent, as well as most burpees in 24 hours (female), and 12 hours, most chest to ground pushup burpees in 24 hours (female), and one minute. 

Clarke also completed the fastest marathon carrying a 40 lb. backpack (female) in the 2015 London Marathon.

The burpee, or squat thrust, is a full-body exercise used in strength training and aerobics. The movement is performed in four steps, known as the “four-count burpee.”

The team was joined by two witnesses during their record attempt through a live conference call. 

“For us, the pandemic is no time to turn into a couch potato. Instead, the team challenged each other to double down on their efforts, even if our gym sessions are on hold and we are separated from our teammates,” said Daniel Gill, assistant director of wellness at a UAE university, in a statement by GWR on Sunday.

Brandon Chin Loy, a computer engineering senior at an Abu Dhabi university who broke his first world record, told Arab News on Monday that he set the event as a goal for himself. 

“I trained under Eva, and it was crazy training which used to start at 4:30 a.m.,” he said.

The team trained six times a week and completed 500 burpees an hour along with other cardio exercises, he said.

“We had to get creative with weights, so I packed books in a bag and carried that,” said Chin Loy.

Team member Ivan Camponogara, a researcher in movement science, said: “Coming face to face with physical challenges never seems to deter me. I take on each adversity with a determined mindset and a will to succeed.” 

Shaddy Gaad, senior marketing manager at GWR’s MENA office, said: “They adapted quickly to our newly launched Remote Adjudication service, where we received their application, adjudicated it online, and presented them with the certificate in a chain video.”

Tereza Petrovicova, who celebrated her university graduation and a Guinness World Record on the same day, said: “This cannot be a better day for us. We thank Guinness World Records for accepting remote adjudication. This online feature creates two measures of accountability, and we did not want to be left behind the eight ball.”

Anna Erdi, who also graduated with a degree in psychology, said: “Mind and body are linked together. All it takes is just one decision to change your attitude 180 degrees. Once that decision is taken, normal will be different. It will not be the same normal, but it can be a better normal.”