Precocious talents in sports have always astounded fans with their swift maturity and their admirable ability to handle pressure in the most intense situations. What is most outstanding about them is how fearless they are even when the chips are down.
One such talent who took the squash world by storm on Saturday was Egypt’s Nour El Sherbini, who has now become the youngest ever winner of the sport’s pinnacle meet. At 20 years and 6 months, she has two of squash’s premier titles that players dream of winning throughout their career – the British Open and the World Championships.
The latter came at the expense of the top seed and World No. 1 Laura Massaro, who was leading 2-0 at Bukit Jalil in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. In a stunning reversal of fortunes, the young Egyptian produced a sensational display to overturn the deficit and grab her maiden world crown, 6-11, 4-11, 11-3, 11-5, 11-8.
Egypt’s first ever women’s world champion
In the process, El Sherbini stamped her presence in record books as she overtook the Kiwi legend and former four-time winner Susan Devoy to become the youngest ever winner of this coveted tournament. Not only that, she also engraved her name in Egyptian sports history as the country’s first ever world champion in the women’s section.
El Sherbini will add one more feather to her crown when the May rankings are announced later on Sunday. She will ascend to the top position as the second-youngest World No. 1, only to be beaten by the great Devoy by just three months.
Youngest ever U-19 world junior champion
The Alexandria native’s rise has been meteoric and perhaps unsurprising, given her immense talent, innate skills and amazing match temperament. No stranger to making the headlines, she became the youngest ever U-19 world junior champion at the tender age of 13 and zoomed into the top 10 at just 16.
In 2013, she reached the elite World Championships final for the first time in her career after toppling the-then invincible World No. 1 Nicol David in the semi-finals. Her final opponent was the same player whom she beat this Saturday but that year, it was Massaro who trumped her in another five-game thriller.
Egypt’s first female British Open champion
Three years on, El Sherbini entered the World Championships with some serious momentum. In March, she laid her hands on her maiden trophy at the British Open – squash’s equivalent of The Wimbledon Championships. And that brought her a slice of history too with the 20-year-old becoming the first female Egyptian to win the coveted title.
Now ranked second but seeded fifth, El Sherbini reached her career’s second World Championships final by outshining the great Nicol David once again – her fifth straight victory over the eight-time world champion!
In the summit clash, she did not give up even after staring at defeat at 0-2 down. With some inspiring words from her legendary compatriot Amr Shabana, she made a fresh start, erasing the memories of the first two games.
It worked wonders and El Sherbini simply soared with confidence as the match progressed. With some nifty volleys, she changed tactics and put the pressure right back at the Briton and succeeded in holding her nerves in a tense decider.
“I’m dreaming right now, I didn’t imagine I could win this match,” said El Sherbini after her monumental feat.
Yes, such incredible achievements are definitely the stuff of dreams and this should inspire any of the gifted up-and-comers to dream big!