Squash in Pakistan
Although hockey is the national sport of Pakistan and cricket is by far the most popular one; the sport in which Pakistan has achieved most success is squash. Pakistan dominated squash like no other country in the world, the domination lasting for the best part of 5 decades. It reached its peak in the 1980s and 1990s during the reigns of Jahangir Khan and Jansher Khan. Between 1950 and 1997, Pakistan amassed over 30 British Open titles, 14 World Open titles and a lot more PSA professional titles.
Hashim Khan was the first Pakistani to dominate the sport. Having been a squash coach in the British Army, when Pakistan gained independence he joined as a coach for the Pakistan Air Force. It was here he impressed the officers with his skills that they sent him to England to compete out of their own pocket. Despite being in his late forties, Hashim Khan showed great skill and speed and in 1951 competed in the prestigious British Open.
It was here he laid the foundation of Pakistani dominance in Squash. Hashim defeated 4 times winner the current champion Mahmoud Karim of Egypt in devastating fashion, 9-5, 9-0, 9-0.
He went on to win British Open titles, 7 titles over 8 years, the only time his supremacy over the championship was broken, he lost to fellow Pakistani and his cousin Roshan Khan.
Pakistani control over the British Open and the World Open which was created in 1976, The names of such great maestros such as Azam Khan, Roshan Khan, Mo Khan, Qamar Zaman, Jahangir Khan, and Jansher Khan have dominated the sport.
Of these, Jahangir Khan is considered by many to be the greatest player ever the grace a squash court. During his career he won the World Open six times and the British Open a record ten times. Between 1981 and 1986, he was unbeaten in competitive play for five years. During that time he won 555 matches consecutively. This was not only the longest winning streak in squash history, but also one of the longest unbeaten runs by any athlete in top-level professional sports.
However, since 1998, when Jansher Khan was defeated in the British Open final, Pakistan squash has fallen from its height and now no longer is the dominant force in squash. No Pakistani since has reached the final of either the British or World Open.
Pakistan host a number of international squash tournaments and have many professional training centres around the country. Pakistani squash players still have a big presence in both the men’s and women’s games, but no one player has reached the standards of past players.
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