Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 31 May 2020

Nouran Gohar balances Ramadan fasting with playing top-level squash at PSA Dubai World Series Finals

PSA Women's Young Player of the Year wins her opening match against fellow Egyptian and last year’s runners-up Raneem El Welily, writes Ahmed Rizvi.
Nouran Gohar, right, won her opening match against fellow Egyptian Raneem El Welily at the PSA Dubai World Series Finals on Tuesday. Giuseppe Cacace / AFP
Nouran Gohar, right, won her opening match against fellow Egyptian Raneem El Welily at the PSA Dubai World Series Finals on Tuesday. Giuseppe Cacace / AFP

DUBAI // Winner of the PSA Women’s Young Player of the Year award on Monday night, Nouran Gohar was buzzing as she arrived at the Dubai Opera for her opening match of the Dubai World Series Finals.

“I was really happy and in a good mood when I came here,” said Gohar, 19, the youngest player in the PSA women’s Top 10. “I came here really excited to play.”

That positivity certainly helped as the Egyptian national champion came on court to edge a close first game against last year’s runners-up Raneem El Welily and that proved crucial in her 13-11, 3-11, 11-3 win.

“To win the first game was really important,” said Gohar, who had defeated El Welily in their last duel as well, in the semi-final of April’s Egyptian National Championship. “She is very determined and never gives up, so I had to make sure I stuck to my gameplan in the third and try to execute it as well as I can.”

Gohar’s compatriot Marwan ElShorbagy did lose the opening game against English veteran Nick Matthew, but fought back to win 11-13, 11-8, 11-7, fighting back form 2-6 down in the deciding third game of the 49-minute thriller.

Had ElShorbagy been fasting like Gohar and El Welily though, the outcome could have been very different. He has, however, decided not to fast during the championship and make up for the missed fasts after the end of the month.

“It’s really unfortunate because, of course, I want to fast,” said ElShorbagy, 23. “This is a really important month for the Egyptians and for the Muslim players in general. So hopefully, next year this event is not going to be held during the month of Ramadan, especially since half of the players [seven of 16] here are Egyptians.

“For now, we just got to deal with it and fast after we finish this month.”

Gohar, however, will be fasting when she takes on Camille Serme and Alison Waters in her remaining group matches, playing both in the afternoon session, and the Egyptian teenager accepted her opponents will have a slight advantage.

“It’s hard to play when you are fasting,’ said Gohar. “But back home in Egypt, we train when we are fasting. So I am prepared because I knew I will be playing my matches when I am fasting.

“The week before, we were fasting and playing like two hours before breaking our fast. So yeah, it will be difficult, but I will do my best.”

Asked what was the most challenging part of playing professional sports in the month of Ramadan, Gohar said it was the change in routine.

“It’s like, the day is night and the night is day,” she said. “It’s totally different. For example, last night I slept after 4am because we eat at that time and then you pray. We went to sleep after that and then I woke up around noon or 1pm, and I had my match, like, two hours later.

“It wasn’t difficult because I woke up and then I had only two hours without food or drinks. Now, I am just going to take a shower and try to relax or sleep until 7pm, then eat and then enjoy the rest of the day.”

arizvi@thenational.ae

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Updated: June 6, 2017 04:00 AM

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