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G.O.A.T: The Contenders 1980-1999 - Part One

Over the coming weeks, we’re giving you the chance to decide the greatest players in squash history as we take a look at the achievements and legacies of some of the most recognisable names ever to take to a squash court.

Last week we looked at some of the outstanding squash players to have graced the courts between 1960-1979 in part two of our public vote.

You can also vote for the pre-1960s era here.

We’re onto the 1980-1999 era now and will relive the achievements of some of the best players to have competed during that era.

You can then determine the top players in a public vote at the end of the week.

Jahangir Khan

Nationality: Pakistani
World Championship Title Wins: 6
World Championship Final Defeats: 3
British Open Title Wins: 10
British Open Final Defeats: 1

555 successive wins, 10 British Open titles and six World Championship crowns – Pakistani legend Jahangir Khan has a trophy cabinet that few other players have come close to matching.

Born in Peshawar in 1963, Khan was initially weak physically as a child and advised by doctors not to take part in any physical activity.

Despite this, Khan fought through adversity to develop into a household name, with his 555 successive wins recorded as the longest winning streak by any athlete in top-level professional sports in the Guinness World Records.

Khan was initially coached by his father, Roshan, and then his older brother, who tragically passed away after suffering a fatal heart attack during a match in Australia. Khan contemplated quitting the sport but, in tribute to his late sibling, chose to continue.

Two years later, Khan was lifting his first World Championships trophy at the age of just 17, beating the iconic Geoff Hunt to become the youngest World Champion ever, while he also reached the final of the prestigious British Open that year, again playing Hunt in the final.

That World Championship triumph kicked off his incredible run of wins, which lasted for five years and eight months and encompassed a run of title victories which included four more World Championship crowns and five British Open triumphs.

The streak eventually came to an end in 1986 with a World Championship final defeat to New Zealand’s Ross Norman but it only halted his run of success momentarily, which extended to a further World Championship title in 1988 and five British Open crowns between 1987-1991.

At the end of the 1980s, another Pakistani player – the great Jansher Khan – arrived on the scene to challenge Khan and the pair dominated the sport for much of the next decade and played 37 times competitively, with Jahangir winning 18 of them.

Jahangir retired from professional squash in 1993 after helping Pakistan win the World Team Championships and he later served as President of the World Squash Federation (WSF) between 2002-2008.

That year, Jahangir received an honorary Doctor of Philosophy degree from the London Metropolitan University.

Khan was known for his incredibly mental strength and fitness and often started his day with a 14 kilometre run before weight training and match play sessions – all of which helped turn him into one of the world’s greatest ever athletes.

Jansher Khan

Nationality: Pakistani
World Championship Title Wins: 8
World Championship Final Defeats: 1
British Open Title Wins: 6
British Open Final Defeats: 3

Another key part of the Pakistani dominance of the sport throughout the 80s and 90s, Jansher Khan won the World Championships a record eight times and also added six British Open titles to a glittering trophy-haul.

Jansher, the younger brother of former British Open finalist Mohibullah Khan, first rose to prominence by winning the 1986 World Junior Championship but proved that he was mature enough for the senior game just a year later as he captured his first World Championship crown.

That was also the first year that the then teenage Jansher first rose to the summit of the World Rankings and the coveted World No.1 spot traded hands between Jansher and his great rival, Jahangir, for the next decade.

Jahangir swept past Jansher in straight games in the final of that year’s British Open but Jansher ultimately came out on top in the pair’s head-to-head record, winning 19 competitive matches to Jahangir’s 18, while he spent three more months than Jahangir did at World No.1, managing 97 in all.

Jansher was known for his lighting quick reflexes and movement round court while his training regime matched that of famously hard trainers Jonah Barrington, Geoff Hunt and Jahangir; Jansher would often line up four or five players during training sessions and play them one after the other, very rarely dropping a single game.

That fitness came to the fore as he was forced all the way to five games in the 1989 World Championships by Chris Dittmar but ultimately came through to win, and he beat the same opponent in the title deciders of the 1990 and 1992 tournaments.

1992 was also the year that Jansher broke his British Open title duck after two previous final defeats – both to Jahangir – and he would go on to win the famous tournament six times in a row.

Four more World Championship crowns would also follow for the Pakistani legend – including a 1993 triumph over Jahangir – while his reign at World No.1 continued right up until 1998 when, with his knees starting to fail him, he was overtaken by Peter Nicol.

Jansher’s career came to an end three years later, and with it went almost five decades of Pakistani dominance in the sport.

Jansher’s final professional title count of 99 is the greatest of any player since records began and both his and Jahangir’s exploits will go down in history.

Susan Devoy

Nationality: New Zealand
World Championship Title Wins: 4
World Championship Final Defeats: 1
British Open Title Wins: 8
British Open Final Defeats: 0

Legendary New Zealander Susan Devoy may have only spent 11 years as a professional squash player, but a glittering array of major titles and a series of record-breaking triumphs have left a lasting legacy on the sport.

Born in Rotorua to a family who were actively involved in the squash community, Devoy quickly progressed through the ranks, winning her first national event at the Under-13 championships in 1977 and she turned professional in 1981.

Three years later, Devoy was celebrating her maiden British Open triumph, the first of seven successive triumphs at the sport’s longest-running tournament, while she remained undefeated at the New Zealand Open throughout 1984-1990 and added an eighth British Open trophy in 1992, a total bettered by only Heather McKay and Janet Morgan.

Devoy made history in 1985 when she beat England’s Lisa Opie to become the youngest women’s World Champion ever (a record that has now been surpassed by Egypt’s Nour El Sherbini), with that win coming a year after she had already became the sport’s youngest ever female World No.1.

Devoy added three further World Championship titles to her collection in 1987, 1990 and 1992 and, but for the fact that the tournament was held on a biennial basis back then, would surely have had more World Championship crowns to her name.

She shocked the squash world when announcing her retirement immediately after her fourth World Championship triumph, at which point she was the Australian, British, French, Hong Kong, Irish, New Zealand, Scottish and Swedish champion, as well as World Champion.

In addition to her incredible squash career, Devoy is also heavily active in charity work and was the patron of the Muscular Dystrophy Association, raising $500,000 for that charity after walking the entire length of New Zealand over a period of seven weeks.

Six years after her retirement, Devoy became a Dane Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit while she has combined her charity work with a career in motivational speaking.

Most recently, Devoy held a position as Race Relations Commissioner for the New Zealand government.

Sarah Fitz-Gerald

Nationality: Australian
World Championship Title Wins: 5
World Championship Final Defeats: 1
British Open Title Wins: 2
British Open Final Defeats: 3

Australia was the dominant force in women’s squash between the early 90s-2000s and there were few players greater than Sarah Fitz-Gerald, who won numerous titles and claimed Commonwealth Games gold in Manchester in the latter stages of her career.

Fitz-Gerald’s vast potential was evident from an early age as she reached her first World Junior Championship final in 1985 and, despite ending up as a losing finalist, she avenged that defeat two years later, beating England’s Donna Vardy to claim junior squash’s biggest title.

That year she also represented Australia in the Women’s World Team Championships and, while they ended up on the losing side in the final, Fitz-Gerald would eventually win the tournament on no less than seven occasions, with her first title win coming in 1992.

1996 proved to be her breakthrough year as she translated the success she had enjoyed as a junior onto the professional circuit. Victory over Cassie Jackman in Malaysia saw her win the first of five World Championship trophies, while she also reached her maiden British Open final, losing to compatriot Michelle Martin.

Fitz-Gerald and Martin would meet in the finals of both the World Championships and British Open in 1997 and 1998, with Fitz-Gerald prevailing in the former both times, while Martin continued to have the better of her fellow Australian in the the latter.

Fitz-Gerald finally got her hands on the British Open crown in 2001 – beating former Australia teammate Carol Owens – while she retained her title the following year.

Two more World Championship titles for Melbourne-born Fitz-Gerald followed in 2001 and 2002; the latter of those seeing her shake off the stresses of a flight cancellation and lost luggage in Qatar to lift the sport’s biggest prize for a fifth time.

Manchester was the scene for another of her greatest triumphs – a Commonwealth Games gold medal in the green and gold kit of Australia – before she retired from professional squash a year later.

Fitz-Gerald was awarded the Member of the Order of Australia in 2004, and she also served as Chairwoman and President of the Women’s International Squash Players Association (WISPA) from 1991-2002.

2010 saw Fitz-Gerald inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame, while she also provided commentary for the 2018 Commonwealth Games, which were held on the Gold Coast in Australia in April.

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