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Navy with Electric green logo Open Squash

Open Squash

Jul 2nd 2024

Gohar-d Or Go-Home!

Nouran Gohar Featured Image

World Champion Nouran Gohar Talks Focus, Egyptian/U.S. Squash, and Having Fun!

World champion squash player Nouran Gohar often hits at Open Squash when she’s in New York City. You can tell she’s practicing in the facility because you can hear the noise of the ball hitting the wall from the minute you walk in—she got her nickname, The Terminator, on the PSA World Tour for a reason. It’s just a different sound!

We caught up with Nouran, who was in New York this summer to coach a squash summer camp for juniors at Open Squash. Fresh from victory at the World Championships in Egypt and most recently, from Seattle, where she won the Xbox tournament, she’s now notched 25 game victories in a row, across the span of five tournaments.

“I’m feeling confident and very grateful,” she said. Although her 25-victory string is still some way from reaching Jahangir Khan’s 555-match victory which has stood since the 1980s!

“He [Jahangir] was watching us in Seattle, so it was a very big honor to be playing in front of him in Seattle and at the British Open. Obviously, he has been a huge inspiration for the whole squash community. But for me personally, it was all the numbers that he has achieved, and yet he's a very humble person,” she said.

Nouran said she didn’t count her 25 victories or five tournaments as she was playing, but only later, and that her perspective on squash changed after her recent heel injury.

“I've always been a person that always looks into the future, thinking about what's going to happen next and not really living the moment,” she said. “I'm always anxious about the future. And, since the injury and working with my mental coaches, we tried to focus on the present, focus on the moment, which definitely helped me drastically on court.”

She was world number one when she got injured, and the feeling of not being able to compete because of the injury was paralyzing, she said. She competed with the injury for a while, which she describes as “very dumb”, with a nine-millimeter tear in her plantar fascia. Doctors told her “I have no clue how you are walking, right now.” She began by denying that the injury was even happening, then found support in Egypt with her family.

But the hardest part of the injury was traveling to Austria to have blood plasma injections at the Redbull Rehab Center. She stayed for four weeks.

“The process itself of taking the blood and then injecting my plasma into the heel was super painful, and I was completely by myself as well,” she said. “My physiotherapist came for the first five days, but he couldn’t stay. And obviously they took very good care of me. But I was completely alone. It was very, very, lonely. I spent my birthday there by myself crying in my room.”

“I get emotional,” she said. “I’ve experienced the lowest point and the highest points as well.”

She got back on court, but the heel didn’t quite respond to treatment as planned, and it required a further two painful plasma injections. It was quite the recovery. Nouran also sends her best wishes to fellow squash player Amanda Sobhy for a speedy recovery as she is currently dealing with her second ruptured Achilles tendon.

How does Nouran stay so competitive, with the top three in the women’s game setting a new level every year? One way is to play against men.

“I think that playing with guys can make you better,” she said.

Nouran particularly complimented Open Squash as a great place to come and train.

“Whenever I come to Open Squash and hit, they’ve been a great support for me. It’s very nice and friendly and the courts are amazing. I think it’s the best facility in New York, so I’m always happy to come back. And I feel so much positivity and energy, which is very nice to feel,” she said.

What does she think about the differences between the U.S. culture around squash, and the culture in Egypt, where it’s so ubiquitous?

“I think the U.S. is making a huge improvement in terms of squash,” she said. “If you watch the nationals, back in March, at the Specter center in Philadelphia, the competition is huge. You have tons of Egyptian coaches now coaching here. They're taking it very seriously. And obviously, squash being in the in the Olympics for 2028, I think has a huge impact on squash in the U.S. and it's a great time to be part of it.”

Meanwhile in Egypt, there was always a fierce competition from a very young age. Nouran moved to the U.S. because her husband, who is also Egyptian, had studied in Michigan for his master’s degree, and has lived here for more than a decade.

“When we got married, we thought the U.S would be a good place to start our life,” she said. “And I was like, okay, let me try, I'm very close to my family, my comfort zone has always been Egypt. But it was good to move to the U.S. to get out of my comfort zone, because I always feel like, if you keep on being in the same place, in the same in your own comfort zone, you will never develop as a person.”

Having endured homesickness in the U.S., Nouran has now made friends from a huge variety of backgrounds. She likes how well things are organized in the U.S. but continues to miss home. In some ways, ideally, she would like to spend a bit of time both in Egypt and in the U.S., she said.

How does she relax?

“I love watching T.V. and movies for sure,” she said, highlighting the show Suits, about corporate lawyers in Manhattan. And The Godfather is also one of her favorite movies of all time. Perhaps surprisingly, she didn’t mention Terminator. But it was a genuine pleasure having Nouran Gohar come to Open Squash and talk with us for a while. Thanks, Nouran! We appreciate you and wish you all the very best on the tour next year!

You can also watch a video version of this interview at our new Boast About It show here!