Earlier this month, Egypt’s Tarek Momen realised one of his childhood dreams, as he became World Champion for the very first time in Qatar.
The World No.3 downed New Zealand’s Paul Coll in the final, in what was one his best ever performances on the PSA World Tour.
“I can’t describe how happy I am to achieve one of my childhood dreams. I worked so hard for many years for this,” Momen admitted.
“At times it felt like it was never going to happen, but looking back at those days, I can only be proud of the way I picked myself up to achieve this goal, thanks to the support I got from my family, team & friends of course.”
To make the moment even more special, Momen joined his wife, Raneem El Welily, as a World Champion in the sport.
Raneem El Welily reacts after winning the World Champs in 2017
El Welily, the World No.1, lifted the PSA World Championship trophy in 2017, when the event was held in Manchester, after she defeated Nour El Sherbini in the final.
The Egyptian pair became the first married couple to have both lifted the PSA World Championship titles, and it something that Momen has been wanting ever since the pair first lifted trophies at the same event.
“It definitely feels special! Ever since we both won the Malaysian Open in 2012, I was hoping we could achieve something together again. With the World Championship record, I guess it can’t get any better, right?!”
Momen’s achievements are all the more impressive, considering that ahead of the World Championships, he had suffered a premature exit at the Egyptian Open.
In front of the Pyramids, the World No.3 lost out to Joel Makin in a tough defeat, and he admits that he was struggling. However, thanks to the team around him, he was able to recover well after that defeat, bringing his best game to Qatar.
Joel Makin (left) and Tarek Momen in action in Giza
“I’m not going to lie, I started the season in very good shape. I was playing well and I was quite confident but after San Francisco I faced many challenges physically which messed up everything for me,” he explained.
“I stopped training well between tournaments to get better and I was really worried about the timing of this setback, with the World Championships coming up and several Platinum events afterwards. In Egypt I started to feel better but I needed to be sharp from the word go because I had a tricky draw in the form of Joel Makin in my first round.
“It was hard to play someone of Joel’s caliber on the first day when I wasn’t as sharp as I’d hoped to be. I lost the match and found myself out of the tournament on my and it was a blow to my self confidence.
“From that day until I won the World Championships, I think those were the toughest 3 weeks of my career, mentally.
My coaches and my team wanted me to see the positive out of this, I got some extra time to heal properly and prepare myself well for the tournament.
“Me, on the other hand, I was freaking out that I was losing my form, I was losing confidence and I was only two weeks away from the World’s in Doha. With the help of my team I pushed myself hard and battled my nerves, taking it one day at a time until I got there and completely turned the situation around.”
The World No.3 also suffered defeat in his first World Championship final, where he lost out to Ali Farag in Chicago earlier this year.
Momen (left) and Farag on court in the final of the World Champs in February
However, the Egyptian made the most of the defeat, and he was able to come back stronger following that event. Momen also used that disappointment to fuel his fire to go even further in the sport.
“I was really frustrated that day after all the effort I had put in the whole week, especially since it was really close and I felt I had a good chance,” he admitted.
“But, it taught me a lot about myself and I decided on that day that not only do I want to fight for the World Championship title, but I actually want to be the World No.1 and win all the big titles. It gave me a boost to push hard in the following events and make three finals in a row.”
Move forward to November 15, 2019, and Tarek Momen becomes World Champion for the first time in his career. What else is left? He has some ideas…
“Winning this title has lifted a lot of weight off of my shoulders. I can enjoy my squash with significantly less pressure and focus on achieving my next big goal which obviously is reaching the World No.1 spot.”