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Geoff Hunt in action

THROWBACK THURSDAY: THE FIRST WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP

Following on the coat-tails of the one-man driving force that was the legendary Jonah Barrington, a man who almost single-handedly dragged squash from the strictly elitist public school corridors to the consciousness of the mainstream during the 1970s, squash took a major leap towards fulfilling its potential as a professional sport between February 3-9, 1976 – when the first ever World Open (later renamed the PSA World Championship ) was staged in London, England.

Won by legendary Australian hard-man Geoff Hunt, who prevailed over top seed Mohibullah Khan of Pakistan in the final of the tournament which saw 41 of the 64 main draw places filled by overseas players, that inaugural World Championship laid the foundations for the transformation that squash underwent during the subsequent 40 years.

The exploits of Barrington, Hunt, Qamar Zaman, Khan and more signalled the beginning of a new era in the history of squash and one that ultimately led to squash becoming a thriving global sport, with a professional circuit that stages over 200 tournaments annually all around the world.

Since then the World Championship has grown to become the most anticipated, most exciting and most prestigious event on the PSA World Tour, with some of the tournament’s recent finals going down in the squash annals amongst the greatest matches ever played.

We’ve picked out some of our favourite matches of recent years to reflect on the majesty of the World Championship and pay tribute to the pioneers who transformed the face of the sport forever.

2014 PSA Men’s World Championship Final – Ramy Ashour v Mohamed ElShorbagy

Ramy Ashour had been out for six months due to injury coming into the 2014 World Championship while World No.1 Mohamed Elshorbagy was in the form of his life.

What followed went down as the greatest World Championship final ever.

2012 PSA Men’s World Championship Final – Ramy Ashour v Mohamed ElShorbagy

When Ramy Ashour and Mohamed Elshorbagy met in their first World Championship decider in 2012, no-one predicted what was to follow as one of the most thrilling matches of all time ensued.

2015 PSA Men’s World Championship Final – Gregory Gaultier v Omar Mosaad

2015 saw Gregory Gaultier end nine years of agonising defeat as he finally claimed the sport’s most coveted title in emotional scenes in Seattle, beating Egyptian Omar Mosaad.

2015 PSA Men’s World Championship Third Round – James Willstrop v Mohamed ElShorbagy

After almost a year out of the game through injury, James Willstrop was still struggling to reach full fitness coming into the 2015 tournament, but he produced one of his finest ever displays to stun World No.1 Mohamed ElShorbagy

2014 Women’s World Championship Final – Nicol David v Raneem El Welily

In perhaps the greatest Women’s World Championship match ever, Nicol David came from match ball down against Raneem El Welily to deny the Egyptian a famous win in her home club in a truly classic encounter.

2016 Women’s World Championship Final – Nour El Sherbini v Laura Massaro

Egypt’s Nour El Sherbini looked down and out after falling two games behind to a scintillating Laura Massaro performance, before she staged a stunning comeback to claim the iconic title – a win that would also see her overtake Massaro as the World No.1 the following month.

2013 PSA Men’s World Championship Final – Nick Matthew v Gregory Gaultier

Nick Matthew carried the hopes and expectations of a passionate home crowd as he took to court against Gregory Gaultier in the 2013 final in Manchester and the Englishman had to be at his very best to hold off a determined Gaultier in this five-game epic.

2009 PSA Men’s World Championship Final – Amr Shabana v Ramy Ashour

Against the dynamic and majestic talent of Ramy Ashour, the legendary Amr Shabana produced a masterclass performance to claim his fourth World Title.

2013 Women’s World Championship Final – Laura Massaro v Nour El Sherbini

Laura Massaro went to the 2013 World Championship as an outside contender for glory and into the lions den in Penang – the hometown of odds on favourite Nicol David. In an unpredictable event, it was Massaro and El Sherbini who contested a tense decider, with Massaro coming out on top.

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