SQUASH must have lost out on successive Olympic bids, but there was no dearth of enthusiasm among the fans who turned up in large numbers throughout the Qatar Classic.
Egyptian players have always drawn big crowds in Qatar, thanks mainly to the presence of a sizeable number of expatriates from that country.
An all-Egyptian final was just what the doctor ordered. Almost half an hour before the scheduled start of the match, the stands at the Khalifa International Complex were full and some fans were disappointed as they could not enter the premises.
It looked as though an Egyptian party was going on inside with the loud music, chanting of drums and cheerful waving of flags.
“Completely rammed to the rafters for the men’s final. Every Egyptian in Doha here,” tweeted legendary English squash player Joey Barrington, who was doing commentary for the Professional Squash Association (PSA).
There was drama in the stands during the match when a crying baby and her parents had to vacate their seats as the noise proved to be a distraction for Mohamed El Shorbagy.
“There was a lot of distractions with the crowd — the kids, the phones, the flashes. Still I tried to keep my focus on,” said El Shorbagy.
Barrington’s compatriot, fellow commentator and former PSA player Simon Parke seemed to be enjoying the noise though.
“It’s good to see all those kids and families coming for a squash final. You can’t find fault with the kids. They’ll be impatient after a while!”